What is HelpSealMyRecord.org?
HelpSealMyRecord is an online application program for citizens who have fulfilled their obligations to the criminal justice system and are struggling with the collateral consequences that 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 that record sealed. 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 filing a Petition for Expungement directly with the court, you will have to pay a filing fee or ask the court to waive it based on your income.
Who can apply?
We can only consider 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 either 1) select the county where your felony took place; or, 2) if your conviction was for a misdemeanor/gross misdemeanor or the county you need isn’t listed, select “All Other Counties”.
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. The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office cannot give you legal advice or represent you in court, so if you have questions, we encourage you toreach out to one of the community-based organizations listed in the drop-down section at the bottom of this page.
Can my application be denied?
Yes. 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 you have more than one matter on your record, we may accept some and not others, or we may deny your application entirely if we determine that sealing your record isn’t appropriate. Some factors we’ll consider when making that decision include the nature and seriousness of the offense, the length of time since the offense occurred, and the rest of your criminal history.
If we deny your application for any reason, we will explain why.
Do I need to file anything with the Court?
If you apply through the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office Help Seal My Record Program and are found eligible, we’ll take care of the logistics. You won’t have to do anything.
If you petition on your own, you’ll have to 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?
If we petition on your behalf, no, you will not be required to make any court appearances. If you petition on your own, you may have to appear in court. It will depend on how your case(s) ended up.
How will I know if my application has been accepted/when my records are sealed?
A written order sealing the records for every eligible case you have with our office. The letter 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 remember that the order will not go into effect (meaning your records will still be visible) for 60 days.This is to give the agencies involved in your case time to appeal the Court's decision if they want to.
Can anyone see my criminal record after it’s been sealed?
Yes. Your criminal record can still be opened by the court, prosecution, or law enforcement agencies for purposes of investigation, sentencing, and probation. Your sealed record can also be seen 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 a prior conviction for the same crime. These are called enhanceable offenses (e.g. Driving While Intoxicated). A sealed criminal record can be used to increase the penalties for enhanceable 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 your records could be sealed right away.. On the other hand, if you were convicted of a felony, you’ll need to keep a clean record for five years prior to the filing of the petition. This is often confusing so think of it like this: say you were convicted of a felony, starting today and looking back in time, have you been convicted of any crime (misdemeanor level and above) 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.