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New law gives hope to job applicants with minor criminal records

The start of a new year doesn't just mean serious resolutions and the need to purchase new calendars, it also means that important legislation passed by state lawmakers during the previous session will officially become law.

To illustrate, consider that January 1, 2015 saw Minnesota's new expungement law take effect. While you might think this law is all about criminal law, it is actually more about employment law in that has to do with the accessibility of criminal records to prospective employers.

What does the new expungement law do?

The new expungement law enables those people who have prior convictions for misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors and certain nonviolent felonies to file a petition asking to have their records sealed from prospective employers and other parts of the general public.

If granted, would this mean that a person's criminal record would be sealed from law enforcement?

No. The criminal records of those granted relief under the law would still be accessible to law enforcement agencies, judges and prosecutors.

Why did the state legislature pass this bill?

The bill was passed due to the understanding on the part of lawmakers that people who made a single mistake in the past that resulted in them running afoul of the law, or who have worked hard to become productive members of society despite their previous transgressions should not see their employment prospects continually diminished.  

Was the bill even necessary?

Consider that statistics from the Council on Crime and Justice show that roughly one of every four Minnesotans has a criminal record. Similarly, consider that a recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 87 percent of employers conduct criminal background checks.

If you would like to learn more about your rights under this new law or have general concerns about employment law concerns, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.

Source: KARE 11, "New expungement law takes effect in 2015," Trisha Volpe, Dec. 31, 2014

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