Expunge Arrest Records

NOTE: If you were arrested but not charged with a crime, there will not be a court record for that event, and you may not need to file expungement forms with the court in that case.

When a person is arrested by a law enforcement agency in Minnesota, a record of that arrest usually exists. Law enforcement agencies (e.g., police departments, sheriffs, prosecutors, etc.) and the MN Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) generally keep arrest records. The public, including employers and landlords, may be able to see arrest information upon request at the law enforcement agencies or the BCA.

If you were arrested but were never charged with a crime, OR if the case was dismissed before a criminal complaint was filed against you, you may be able to request that the "identifying parts" of the arrest records (except DNA samples that were collected) be destroyed and that your arrest record be sealed at the law enforcement agency. Read MN Statutes § 299C.11, which is the law that applies to arrest records.

To ask for this type of 299C.11 expungement you must make your request in writing to the law enforcement agencies that may have a record of the arrest. The agencies typically include the police department, city and/or county attorney, the county sheriff, and the BCA. To be eligible for this type of expungement, you must not have been convicted of a felony or gross misdemeanor within ten (10) years prior to the arrest. In addition, you must meet the following criteria:
  • all charges were dismissed prior to a determination of probable cause; OR
  • the prosecuting authority declined to file any charges and a grand jury did not return an indictment;
  • you did not participate in a diversion program as a result of the arrest.
The 299C.11 process usually does not involve the court. If you decide to use this process, you should keep a copy of each letter you write and send the letters to the law enforcement agencies by "Certified Mail-Return Receipt Requested" so that you will know when the agencies received the letters.

Sample Form Letters for Expungement of Arrest Records

If you think you qualify for expungement of arrest records under MN Statutes § 299C.11 and you decide to contact the law enforcement agencies involved in the arrest, you may start the process using the sample letters listed below to contact the agencies. These sample form letters are only examples, and you must edit them and add all of the information specific to your case if you use them.

If you do not think you can do this on your own, talk to a lawyer or see if there are Self-Help Centers where you could get more help. If you cannot find the addresses for the law enforcement agencies involved in your case, you might find them in the phone book or on the Internet. You may also find that information at your local courthouse, law library, or public library.