Expungement is an extremely obscure area of law that many people do not even know exists. Expungement or setting aside a criminal conviction can change a person’s life and open the door for opportunities that were previously impossible.
Any attorney knows that expungement is a complex web of different procedures and laws. The process can vary from city to city and county to county; let alone state to state. The increasingly fluid world that we live in makes it more possible than ever to have convictions in different states. People often get convictions while on vacation, if their job requires travel or they live in a tri-state area.
Since states already have different laws; the expungement process for an out of state conviction is confusing but possible.
Expungement Process in General
In Minnesota, one may have to make a formal request to the District Attorney’s Office in the area of the original conviction to even file an expungement petition with the Court. The Minnesota statute details how and when a petition can be filed with prosecutor approval. This first step is aided by having the assistance of an attorney that already has a working relationship with the District Attorney’s Office.
The District Attorney and the Judge will want to see evidence of why the conviction should be expunged and how the Petitioner has had a change in behavior. Time away from the conviction without new convictions is of the utmost importance as well.
Sexual crimes and crimes against children are the most difficult (and nearly impossible) cases to be expunged. Felony crimes are also almost one hundred percent impossible to expunge although there are some legal maneuvers to handle these situations at times.
The petition may make its way to a hearing date in which the Judge may ask the Petitioner additional questions.
Expungement of Out of State Convictions
Can an out of state conviction be expunged? The answer is, like many legal topics, that it depends. States have different laws about what kind of crimes can be eligible for expungement. For this reason, many attorneys will not even touch an out of state expungement case.
It is advisable to contact an expungement attorney in the state or states of conviction in order to understand if the crime is even eligible for expungement. For example, some states allow the expungement of misdemeanor or lesser DUI charges; while other states will not allow any sort of alcohol or drug charges to be expunged.
A great place to start is also by calling the Court clerk of the Court of conviction. The clerk may often be able to direct a person to a web site with state specific laws and paperwork regarding criminal expungement.
While, many attorneys may not want to take on an out of state expungement petition; some attorneys may help to find another attorney in the state of conviction. It is also not unheard of for an attorney to “team up” with an out of state attorney and outsource the expungement for a fee.