Stay of Imposition is considered a Felony - Supreme Court Decision (UPDATE)

The biggest uncertainty following the release of the new expungement in 2015 was – how would courts treat stays of imposition, in which a felony conviction is later deemed a misdemeanor upon successful completion of probation? Is it a misdemeanor, which would make all such convictions eligible for an expungement after 2 years? Or is it a felony, which would make only certain convictions eligible for an expungement after 5 years? The answer is critical to the eligibility for so many Minnesotans.

Recently, the Minnesota Supreme Court finally answered this question – once a felony, always a felony for expungement purposes. Even though the record is, by law, deemed a misdemeanor following the successful completion of the stay of imposition probationary period, the record is considered a felony for expungement purposes. The result is that fewer people are eligible for an expungement now and those that remain eligible must wait 5 years to gain eligibility.

The Court arrived at this decision by focusing on the statutory language in play: “the petitioner was convicted of or received a stayed sentence for a felony ….” Minn. Stat. 609A.02, subd. 3(a)(5). The Court determined that the language – was convicted of – refers to the point in time when the matter was resolved. So, if you were convicted of a felony originally, the fact that it is later deemed a misdemeanor by law is of no consequence to your eligibility determination.

If your felony case was resolved via a stay of imposition, it is critical to understand your eligibility requirements and your options in how to best proceed. And even if you believe your case may not be eligible, there are ways to argue your case is eligible based upon a careful analysis of the case and a deep understanding of the expungement law. Contact an experienced expungement attorney today.

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