What is HelpSealMyRecord.org?
HelpSealMyRecord is an online application program for citizens who have fulfilled their obligations to the justice system and struggling with the collateral consequences that can come with a criminal record. Oftentimes these consequences prevent people from serving as productive members of our community, yet studies have shown very few people who are eligible to seal their records successfully apply. This program aims to remedy that.
If you have a criminal record for an offense that was prosecuted by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, we may be able to help you get your record sealed by the court. Sealing, or expunging, a criminal record essentially removes it from public view. The records aren’t destroyed, but they are hidden, and that can make it easier for you to find a job or secure housing.
Do I have to pay to get an expungement of my criminal record?
There is no cost to apply through the HelpSealMyRecord program. If you apply by preparing and filing a Petition for Expungement directly with the court, you will have to pay a $300 filing fee or ask the court to waive this fee based on your income.
Who can apply?
This specific application is only for cases that were charged or prosecuted by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office. If you were charged with a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor and your case was prosecuted by a city attorney, or you were charged with a felony in a different county, your application to our office will be denied. For help with cases like this, visit www.helpsealmyrecord.org and select the county where your felony took place or, “all other counties” if your conviction was for a misdemeanor/ gross misdemeanor or the county you need isn’t listed. You can also visit the self-help center on the skyway level of the Hennepin County Government Center for assistance in applying on your own or reach out to one of the community-based organizations listed toward the bottom of this page.
Can my application be denied?
Yes. If you have more than one matter on your record, we may accept some and not others, or we may deny your application entirely if, after carefully considering the factors outlined in the Minnesota expungement law, we determine that sealing your record isn’t appropriate. These factors include the nature and seriousness of the offense, the length of time since the offense occurred, and the rest of your criminal history.
Your application may also be denied if your offense doesn’t qualify under the statute or you haven’t met the waiting period requirements. If we deny your application for any reason, we will explain why.
Do I need to file anything with the Court?
No. If you apply through the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office and are found eligible, you do not have to file any paperwork with the Court. If you seek expungement on your own, you must file a Petition for Expungement with the Court and serve a copy of your petition to every agency involved in your case(s).
Will I need to appear in court for my record to be sealed?
No, you will not be required to make any court appearances.
How will I know if my application has been accepted/when my records are sealed?
If all of your records are eligible, a written order with the court's decision will be mailed directly from District Court to the address you provide. If you have more than one record and not all of them are eligible, you'll receive an email detailing which records are eligible and why. It’s important to note that the order will not go into effect (meaning your records will still be visible) for 60 days. This is to allow time for any of the agencies involved to appeal the Court's decision if they choose to do so.
Can anyone see my criminal record after it’s been sealed?
Yes. Your criminal record can still be accessed by the court, prosecution, or law enforcement agencies for purposes of investigation, sentencing, and probation. Your sealed record can also be accessed by state agencies if you apply for certain jobs or job-related licenses.
Can the state use a sealed criminal record as a prior offense when charging or sentencing a new offense?
Yes. Some criminal offenses become more serious if you have prior offenses of the same type. These are called enhanceable offenses (e.g. Driving While Intoxicated). When the law permits, a sealed criminal record can be used to enhance the penalties for new offenses.
Required Waiting Periods
Under the statute, most kinds of criminal records require that the applicant (you) remain crime-free for a certain amount of time prior to the filing of the petition. The waiting periods range from zero to five years depending upon the seriousness of the offense and how the case was resolved. A new charge/conviction can extend that waiting period or disqualify you entirely.
For example: if your entire case was dismissed you may be eligible without a waiting period. Alternatively, if you were convicted of a felony-level offense, you would need to maintain a clean record for five years prior to the filing of the petition. This is often confusing so think of it like this: starting today, have you been convicted of any crimes (misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony) in the last five years?
If no, you’re eligible to apply.
If yes, your five-year clock starts on the day you were discharged from probation or parole for your last conviction. Make a note of that date, then come back and apply once you’ve made it.