Exoneration vs. Expungement: What’s the Difference?

While exoneration and expungement are related concepts in criminal law, they have different meanings and may not necessarily happen at the same time. Here, we want to explain exactly what exoneration and expungement are as well as why this matters for those in Minnesota.

What is Exoneration?

Exoneration is the legal act of absolving someone for blame for a crime they allegedly committed. This process refers to the court taking back the defendant’s criminal conviction and vindicating them, officially absolving the guilty verdict. Obtaining an exoneration requires a reversal of the conviction by displaying evidence of innocence, showing a flaw in the original judgment, or some other legality.

What is Expungement?

Expungement is the official sealing of a person’s past criminal record. Criminal charges generally stay on a person’s record for many years, if not for life. This can make it very difficult for a person to secure a job, find housing, or attend school. The expungement process does not destroy a person’s past criminal history, but it does seal it so that landlords, employers, and other entities cannot find it. However, expunged records can be unsealed in the event a person faces future prosecution or if they apply to work for sensitive government jobs, including law enforcement.

Expungement for the Wrongfully Convicted in Minnesota

There are various ways in which a person could be eligible for expungement in Minnesota. For example, a case can be expunged if the charges against the defendant were dismissed or if the defendant was acquitted. Additionally, if a person is convicted of an offense and evidence later proves their innocence, and they are exonerated, a person will be eligible to have their record expunged.

Many people think that just because a person has been exonerated for a crime that their record will automatically be expunged. That is not the case. As reported by the New York Times, those who have been exonerated often have a hard time assimilating back into society, and it is particularly difficult for them to find a job. Many employers disregard any applicant who has a criminal record, even if they have been exonerated.

The best way for an exonerated individual to succeed is to get their records expunged so future employers and landlords will not see them.

Get Help from a Mankato Expungement Attorney

If you or somebody you care about has been charged with and convicted of a crime and you think they have their record expunged, you need to work with a skilled attorney as soon as possible. At Knutson+Casey, we are ready to analyze the facts of your case to determine whether or not we can help. Our team understands the expungement processes, and we will be able to review your case and help formulate the best path moving forward. Contact our Minnesota expungement attorneys today to discuss your case.