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Changing Your Criminal Record

It is not easy to get your record expunged, pardoned, or sealed, but you do have options.

Some ex-offenders are able to get all or part of their criminal records cleared so it is no longer a barrier to their job search. Learn about these options below.

The information below is for informational purposes only. Talk to a legal professional to find out if you are eligible to have items removed from your record.

Criminal Expungement

Expungement means that the courts seal all or part of your criminal record from the public. Those items are still on your record, but employers will not see them when they do a background check.

Expungements are difficult to obtain. Less serious crimes can be expunged if you can prove positive changes in your life that makes it less likely that you will commit another crime. Serious crimes like murder, aggravated assault, driving while intoxicated, and sex offender crimes are never expunged in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Judicial Branch offers current information about criminal expungement. Includes obtaining your State and Federal criminal case history, forms for expungement, FAQ's and more.


A pardon is the forgiveness of fault, offense, or guilt. Pardons are usually granted to someone who served their sentence and is living a crime-free life. A pardon does not seal or erase a conviction, but it is a good sign of rehabilitation.

Pardons are granted by the Governor of Minnesota. The President of the United States grants pardons for federal crimes only.

Sealing a Criminal Record

To seal a criminal record means that a court official hides all record of the criminal proceedings from public access. An employer would not know a criminal record existed if it was sealed.

A juvenile record sealed through the juvenile court would also not show up on any type of background check.

Someone with a sealed criminal record can lawfully respond to any questions about arrests, acquittals, and convictions as if they never happened. Contact a lawyer to find out how to proceed if you are a good candidate for having your record sealed.

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