Rochester, MN asked in Civil Rights, Criminal Law and Juvenile Law for Minnesota

Q: In Minnesota if my records expunged what I still be able to be a police officer. Or could they see that when I apply

I live in Minnesota and as I was 15 I was charged with a felony and was in adjudicated delinquent which from my understanding is the equivalent of the guilty verdict. My dream in life even before that was to become a police officer. And I've had very bad luck finding the answer online but if I was to have my record expunged and sealed what I still be able to come a police officer or if when I apply they'd be able to see that. And then a separate follow-up question if it's sealed would I still be able to join the military

1 Lawyer Answer
Thomas C Gallagher
Thomas C Gallagher
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Licensed in Minnesota

A: The best way to get a good answer to those question would be to ask the right person with the P.O.S.T. Board (police licensing agency in Minnesota), and the appropriate military branch (probably with the J.A.G. office, not a recruiter, for example).

I do not know the answer to the specific question. The following information might be helpful however.

In Minnesota, a juvenile delinquency adjudication is not a "criminal conviction" though it is in many respects the equivalent of an adult conviction. Words can matter. And the law chose to use these different terms for a reason.

In Minnesota in 2017, juvenile court records are "public" for a juvenile charged with or adjudicated guilty of a criminal act only if (1) it's a felony charge; AND (2) the juvenile is age 16 or older. If the juvenile is certified for prosecution as an adult, that would also make the court file "public."

The above is before any consideration of expungement.

It is possible to petition the court for an expungement of a juvenile delinquency case (though for someone who was under 16, that might or might not be worthwhile). There is more than type of expungement possible, but that is beyond the scope of this response. Every type would at least seal the court records from "the public."

Can the P.O.S.T. Board or the military see "non-public" records? I would have to research that question to find out the answer. Or you could.

I have been made aware of situations in the past where a person had an expungement order (adult) making government records "sealed" or non-public; then the person applies for an occupational license; then the occupational licensing authority asks them to disclose any expunged criminal history. Of course, this practice undermines the purposes of the court's expungement Order. But of the few instances like this that have been reported to me, all of these few did end up getting licensed. Of course, it's quite possible that that may not always be the case. I would presume that an expunged criminal history should no longer disqualify a person based upon any non-discretionary criteria. But I would be concerned that somewhere, some licensing authority might use an expunged criminal history, once known to them, to exercise a discretionary denial.

Based on what I now know, I can't see how an expungement could hurt and it might be helpful. There is a similar, but different remedy called a Pardon Extraordinary. Many of the same considerations may apply to that, though not all.

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