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How to Get a Felony Off Your Record in Minnesota

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A felony has a big impact on a person’s life and if you live in Minnesota, you’ve come here trying to find out how to get the felony off your record.  Realize that with all felony records, there are three options you can take.  1) Expunge Your Record 2) Seal Your Record 3) Request a Pardon of Your Record

The problem though is that all states don’t offer all three of these options. But before we get into what Minnesota offers, let’s review what each of these options actually mean.


If you get your record expunged in Minnesota it’s as if your arrest and/or charges never happened. Your record is completely destroyed, including all physical and public records. When asked if have a criminal record, after expungement, you can truthfully answer “no”.

Record Sealing

Sealing your record in Minnesota is similar to expungement, but your record still exists in a limited form. The public does not have access to your record, but there are some exceptions. Your records can still be accessed by law enforcement and the courts. Record sealing is not as secure as expungement, but it is a reasonable alternative that is comparatively easier to obtain if your state offers it.


If you receive a pardon in Minnesota, you still have record of your arrest or charge, but your guilt is exonerated. That is, you have proven that you are rehabilitated and forgiven for your crimes. You can also get relief in terms of having various rights restored, such as your right to vote. The requirements for pardons vary between states, but typically there is a lot of documentation required, and includes lengthy waiting periods to apply and receive a pardon.


Things to Know Before You Start

First: It’s important to understand that every state is different in terms of what methods are available for felons to remove their record and the information below will help you understand what you can do in Minnesota.

Felony Expungement in Minnesota

No, it is not possible to expunge your felony in Minnesota.

Sealing a Record in Minnesota

Yes, it is possible to seal your record in Minnesota.

Getting a Pardon in Minnesota

Yes, it is possible to get a pardon of your record in Minnesota but it depends on the felony.

Second: When trying to clear your record, you really have two options.  The first is to get a free consultation from a lawyer to see what they think of your case, and the second is to try to do all of the paperwork yourself.  

Third: We HIGHLY recommend that you get a free consultation from a lawyer prior to taking any action.  We say this because whether you want to expunge, seal, or pardon your record, it’s an extremely complicated process.  Failure to follow the process properly can end up with you being denied for the request and having to wait additional time (sometimes several years) before you can file again.  In addition, getting an expungement lawyer can increase your odds of succeeding and sometimes it’s more affordable than you think.  The first step is to click on the button below to confirm that you’re eligible for the expungement/sealing off your record.

Can You Expunge a Felony in Minnesota?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to completely expunge your criminal record in Minnesota. You can, however, seal your records, which is referred to as expunging in that state.

Can You Seal Your Criminal Record in Minnesota?

Only some types of felonies can be sealed in Minnesota. For a list of those qualifying felonies, look here.


If you were not convicted of a qualifying felon, then you cannot apply to get your record sealed in Minnesota. If it has been less than five years since you successfully completed your conviction and/or you have been convicted of a new crime in those five years since, you cannot petition to have your record sealed.

How to Seal Your Criminal Record in Minnesota

• Before you begin this process, we insist that you take this eligibility test to determine if you’re eligible to seal your record.
• If you are eligible, you should talk to the lawyer that we refer you to so that you get an idea of the price for their services (it’s likely cheaper than you think because expungements are mostly paperwork) and see what other helpful information they can give you.
• If you are not eligible to seal your record based on our test, then you should stop here.
• If you are eligible to seal your record based on our test and want to do this without a lawyer, continue reading.
• Get a complete set of expungement forms for each Minnesota case that you want to expunge. The forms are available from the Court Clerk at the courthouse where the case was handled. There may be a small fee for the forms. You can also download and print copies of the forms from the Minnesota State Court website at www.mncourts.gov/forms. Steps to seal your felony record in Minnesota

Step 1. Get your complete criminal case history.
• Even though you can only ask for an expungement in the county in which the incident occurred, you must list all of your cases, even those where you were not convicted, in your petition.
• If you had criminal cases in other states, contact those courts directly about your criminal record information.
• You may also want to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) if you are not sure of your complete record in other states. 

Step 2. Get the expungement forms.
• You will need a set of forms for each of your criminal cases, and they are called:
• Notice of Hearing and Petition for Expungement (3 pages)
• Order Concerning Sealing of Records (Conviction or No Conviction)(2 pages)
• Affidavit of Service (1 page)

Step 3. Explain why you want an expungement.
• If you were denied work or housing, describe the details of those situations.
• If you were turned down for a job, include the type of job you applied for, your experience with that kind of work, the name of the employer and the reason they gave you for not hiring you.
• For housing, describe where you were turned down and the reason the landlord gave for turning you down.
• Next, explain how your life will be better if you get an expungement.
• If you have letters from people who can support or prove what you are saying about your situation, attach those letters to your Petition.

Step 4. You must tell the court about other times when you asked for an expungement or a pardon. If you have never asked for one before, write “NONE” on the form.

Step 5. Apply for a hearing date
• After you have filled out your forms, you will need to apply to schedule a hearing date.
• Each court has a different way to schedule hearing dates for expungements.
• Ask a Court Clerk to help you get a date.
• We recommend that you get a hearing date 70 days or more from now.
• If your court hearing is less than 63 days from when your papers are mailed to the agencies, your expungement case will be dismissed and you will have to start all over. Give yourself the extra time!

Step 6. Sign your petition in front of a notary.
• Page 3 of your Petition has a place for you to sign and your signature MUST be notarized.

Step 7. Have another adult mail your forms.
• The Court Rules say that the person asking for expungement cannot be the person who does the “Service of Process.” Some other adult must do it.
• The other adult must be at least 18 years old and have a photo I.D.
• This person must also be willing to sign the Affidavit of Service in front of a Notary after putting the envelopes in the mailbox.
• This is critical!
• Before mailing the envelopes, show this adult what kind of papers are in the envelopes.
• The other adult only needs to see that they are expungement papers, and does not need to read them word for word.
• Seal the envelopes at this point, and have the other adult put them in the mailbox.

Step 8. Go to the hearing.
• You must go to the court hearing, unless you get a notice from the court that tells you that you do not need to attend.

Can You Apply for a Pardon in Minnesota?

Under the Minnesota Constitution, there is a Board of Pardons which has the “power to grant reprieves and pardons. The Board is made up of the Governor, the Attorney General, and the Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. In order to receive a pardon, the Board must unanimously vote to grant you the pardon.


Out-of-state conviction:

You can only apply for a pardon in Minnesota for a Minnesota conviction. Less than 10 years for a crime of violence. If you were convicted of a crime of violence (there is a list here under subdivision 5) you must wait 10 years without being convicted of any other crime during that time.

How to Apply for a Pardon in Minnesota

There are two types of pardons in Minnesota: a regular “pardon” and a “pardon extraordinary.” The application process is essentially the same for both types of pardons. If you are still serving your sentence (for example, you are still in prison, on probation or parole) you can apply for a “pardon” at any time.
• If you have completed your sentence, you will need to apply for a “pardon extraordinary” instead.
• Before you begin this process, we insist that you take this eligibility test to determine if you’re eligible to request a pardon for your record.  In most cases, if you are eligible for expungement on our test, then you’ll be eligible for a pardon.
• If you are eligible, you should talk to the lawyer that we refer you to so that you get an idea of the price for their services (it’s likely cheaper than you think because requesting a pardon is mostly paperwork) and see what other helpful information they can give you.
• If you are not eligible based on our test, then you should stop here.
• If you are eligible based on our test and want to do this without a lawyer, continue reading.
• There are no application fees to apply for a pardon in Minnesota. To have your pardon application considered in the fall, you must submit all materials by June 1st, and to have your pardon application considered in the spring, you must have submit all materials by December 1st.

The pardon application is available online. Go here to download the appropriate pardon form for your situation. Follow all instructions on the form and if you have any questions you can reach the Board of Pardons at 651-361-7200.The application form is quite simple and self-explanatory, as it was created for the non-lawyer to use.
• We highly suggest that you contact the Board to receive the official, most updated form. Using an outdated or unofficial form may cause your application to be rejected.Steps to apply for a pardon in MinnesotaStep 1. Among your basic information, you will need to include a statement of all other arrests, indictments, and convictions that you have (if any).
• If you do not have sufficient information about all of your arrests, indictments, and convictions, you can contact the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, at (651) 793-7000.
• You can also log onto its website here.
• If you have convictions in other states, you can obtain a more comprehensive, nationwide criminal report from the FBI. You can find out how to do this by calling the FBI’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., at (202) 324-3000, or logging onto its website at http://www.fbi.gov.
• The FBI’s website also has a list of local FBI offices you can call.Step 2. Although not required, we highly suggest that you submit, on a separate sheet of paper, a detailed and genuine personal statement explaining why you need a pardon.
• Simply saying you want a clean criminal record again is not enough.
• Tell the Board how your conviction has negatively affected you and/or your family.
• For example, explain how you have been denied housing or employment opportunities because of your conviction, and how this has prevented you from providing your family and you an adequate standard of living.
• If you are facing deportation because of a conviction, explain how being separated from your family will negatively affect you as well as them.
• If you are pursuing a career in a field that requires you to obtain a pardon, submit documents, letters, or other proof from a prospective employer, licensing agency, or attorney verifying this necessity.
• If you need to regain your gun rights, explain why you need this—for example, you are pursuing a career that requires the use of firearms, or you want to take part in your family hunting traditions, or you simply want to feel more secure and able to defend yourself and/or your family after a recent traumatic event.
• Also indicate in your personal statement all the positive things that have occurred in your life—for example, educational achievements, new or stable employment, marriage and children, community involvement, charitable services or donations, law-abiding behavior, etc.
• Submit copies of your college transcript, high school diploma or GED, military certificates, marriage certificate, honors and awards, and other proof of your rehabilitation and good character.
• Explain what your future plans are and how a pardon would help or hinder those plans.
• In writing your personal statement, keep in mind that the Board will not be retrying you for the offense.
• `The Board is probably more interested in seeing your remorse for the crime, and your understanding of its effects on the victim and society, than anything else.Step 3. As part of the pardon application, you are required to include three letters of recommendation.
• The letters should be from people who know you well and are able to write about your good character.Step 4. Your completed application should be sent toMinnesota Board of Pardons1450 Energy Park, Ste 200St. Paul, MN 55108
• Keep a copy of everything you send for your records.Step 5. The Secretary of the Board will pre-screen your application.Step 6. You should plan to be at the hearing, even if the Board tells you that you do not have to.
• Look and act appropriately at your hearing; dress in the same way you would if you were going to court for trial.
• The hearing is a good opportunity for you to put a human face onto your application; it lets the Board not only see you in person but also see the amount of support you have in your community.
• You should be upfront and cooperative with the Board and its agents at all times.
• The Secretary of the Board will notify the judge and prosecuting attorney who were involved in your conviction (or their successors) of your application and the hearing date.
• The Secretary will also publish a notice of your application in a local newspaper in the county where the crime occurred.Step 7. You will be notified of the Board’s decision after the hearing.
• If the Board denies your application, you can ask the Board to reconsider your case, and at least two members of the Board must consent to reconsider.
• There must be new and substantiated facts which were not considered at the first hearing. 

So, there you have it.  Three separate ways to get rid of your record in Minnesota.  As we’ve said numerous times throughout this page, this is a really complicated process and we highly recommend that you take this eligibility test prior to taking any action to determine if you are eligible for any of these options.

Please note, the information contained here is not legal advice and is strictly informational.  If you have any further questions about the information above, or in general, you need to contact a lawyer directly.

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