With the passing of HF 2576, Minnesotans took an important step toward statewide expungement reform. Sponsored by Rep. Carly Melin, the bill was passed by the House via 85-47 vote.
HF 2576 extends expungement rights for people who have been convicted for petty misdemeanors and managed to stay trouble-free for at least five years. In regards to people convicted of non-violent felonies, they would also be eligible for expungement if they stay conviction free for at least eight years. For juvenile cases, the bill would effectively expunge all juvenile arrest charges if the judge deems the action in the best interest of public safety.
The bipartisan efforts of Minnesota’s Expungement Working Group played an important role in getting HF 2576 ample attention. Minnesota legislators responded to a 2013 Supreme Court decision that ruled judges can only expunge court records, resulting in arrest and investigative records surfacing on background checks. In response to the court ruling, legislators have taken measures into their own hands to ensure deserving people get their second chance.
In a recent case, Minnesota man Mahlon Martin was recently fired from his job after a background check revealed erroneous information to his employer. The background check contained a misdemeanor from 1997. Even though Martin served a one year probation without jail time, the background check indicated that he had been jailed for a year which led to his current predicament. Martin’s story is one of many situations that people are facing nationwide.
Senator Bobby Joe Champion, former chair of the Expungement Working Group, will sponsor HF 2576 when the bill heads to the Senate for a vote. The Senate Rules and Administration Committee is currently in the process of revising the bill where certain changes of the bill may or may not take place. Minnesotans can count on Senator Champion to continue to champion Minnesota expungement.
Additional provisions of HF 2576 include:
• Expungement could be provided for without the filing of a petition in certain cases where the prosecutor agrees to the sealing of a criminal record
• A business screening service must delete a criminal record from its database if it knows the record has been sealed, expunged or is the subject of a pardon;
• Allowing for exchange of expunged records between criminal justice agencies without a court order
• Allowing eviction records to be sealed