One of the common questions I am hearing on a number of expungement calls is, can an expungement be granted for a case that was charged as a felony, but was reduced to a misdemeanor upon completion of probation? As an attorney who represents those petitioning the court and seeking expungement, my obvious interpretation of the new law is yes, this is permitted under the statute. The new Minnesota Expungement Statute only allows expungement of certain felony convictions. But what about cases that are charged as a felony and reduced to a misdemeanor upon a successful completion of probation? The statute can be interpreted a couple different ways and that means that this issue will likely go up on appeal to be interpreted by Minnesota’s higher courts.
Some Courts and County Attorney offices are saying that the statute specifically includes which types of felonies are eligible for statutory expungement. If it is not one of those listed felonies, and the case was not dismissed, then statutory expungement cannot be granted.
On the other hand, I contend that felonies reduced to misdemeanors should qualify for expungement under the new law. The statute permits expungement of misdemeanor convictions. Minnesota Statutes section609.13, generally provides that although a conviction may have been for a felony charge, “the conviction is deemed a misdemeanor if the imposition of the prison sentence is stayed, the defendant is placed on probation, and the defendant is thereafter discharged without a prison sentence.” This statute says that upon successful completion of probation and when there is a stay of imposition of sentencing, what could have been characterized at the time of the guilty plea, should now be considered a misdemeanor level conviction. Further proving this point is a person’s discharge papers following a successful completion of probation with a stay of imposition. On one’s discharge Order a District Court Judge orders, “IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT, pursuant to M.S.A. 609.13, Subd. 1, Clause 2, this conviction is deemed to be for a misdemeanor.”
Until we hear from the Minnesota Court of Appeals and/or Minnesota Supreme Court, it is up to the District Court Judges to determine how to interpret the Statute. The results of your expungement petition will depend on how well you can argue this point and how well you understand the law surrounding this issue. For a free consultation about your case, contact our office today.