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NACDL Launches New Database of Rights Restoration

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has published a new database that helps determine what rights have been lost by a felony conviction, and if, and how they maybe restored. The database helps answer the most persistent questions asked by those who have been convicted of crimes.  For example, the entry related to Minnesota reads:

Loss & Restoration of Civil Rights:  All civil rights lost upon conviction of any felony; restored upon completion of sentence.

Firearms Privileges:  All firearms privileges lost upon conviction of any felony; restored upon completion of sentence except for crimes of violence; also restored by court or pardon.

Pardon Process:  Governor and high officials (attorney general, chief justice) act as pardon board, which is required to report to the legislature annually; for a “pardon extraordinary,” which restores all right and effectively nullifies a conviction, eligibility requires five crime-free years from final discharge for nonviolent crimes or 10 crime-free years for violent offenses; commissioner of corrections screens applications and decides which cases should be heard by the board; public hearing with notice to officials and victim and decision announced at end of hearing; pardon extraordinary does not expunge or seal conviction.  Pardons issued sparingly.

Judicial Expungement & Sealing:  Trial court has common law expungement authority and applies a balancing test; deferred prosecution and statutory expungement for minor drug offenses, non-conviction records.  Deferred sentencing for certain felony convictions which may be knocked down to misdemeanors following probation. Sealing for juveniles tried as adults after discharge; expungement of juvenile adjudications  depending on offense and case disposition.

Consideration of Conviction in Employment and Licensing:  To deny public employment or license based upon a conviction, there must be a “direct relationship” between occupation/license and conviction history, and the individual must not have shown “sufficient rehabilitation and present fitness to perform” the job duties or licensed occupation; rehabilitation is established by one year without an arrest after release or by successful completion of probation or parole.

That is a brief summary,12 pages of detailed information is available here.

The summary of federal information is:

Loss & Restoration of Civil Rights:  Vote depends on state law for both state and federal offenders.  Federal jury eligibility is lost upon conviction in state or federal court of a crime punishable by more than one year if a person’s “civil rights have not been restored.”  The Constitution does not prevent individuals from holding federal office after conviction of any crime.  Most states that do not restore the right to vote automatically give federal offenders access to their restoration procedures.  Jury eligibility is only restored upon an affirmative act, such as pardon or expungement.

Firearms Privileges:  Persons with convictions in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year are subject to the prohibition on possession of firearms under federal law; restoration by presidential pardon only for federal offenders, under 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(20) (defining triggering offense) or 18 U.S.C. 925 (ATF relief) for state offenders.  (Section 925 has not been funded since 1990.)

Pardon Process:  President decides; no reporting or notice requirement.  Eligibility five years after sentence or release from confinement.  No public hearing, paper record review, unlimited time.  Relieves all legal disabilities but does not expunge.  Pardons infrequent and irregular since 1990.

Judicial Expungement & Sealing:  No federal expungement, except where arrest or conviction invalid or subject to clerical error.  Deferred adjudication and expungement for first misdemeanor drug possession if under age 21 at time of offense.

Consideration of Conviction in Employment and Licensing:  Only limitation found in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, barring discrimination on grounds of race, etc.

Sixteen pages of detail is available here.

These details show the importance of being properly represented if you have been charged with a state or federal crime.  John L. Fossum is an MSBA Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist, a long time member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and can assist you if you have been charged in state court in Minnesota, or in Federal Court. Fossum Law Office, LLC has offices in Northfield, and Bloomington, Minnesota and can assist you if you have legal problems in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Hastings, Shakopee, Faribault, Owatonna, Waseca, Rochester, Austin, Albert Lea, Anoka, Stillwater, or elsewhere in Minnesota, or in federal court. Fossum Law Office, LLC can assist you whether you have been charged with a felony, gross misdemeanor misdemeanor or juvenile offense.  Do not go to court alone. There is much more to a criminal conviction than the sentence.  If you have been charged with, or are being investigated for,  drug crimes, white collar crime, a violent or sex offense, or any crime, you need a criminal defense lawyer, now.  Contact Fossum Law Office, LLC today for a consultation.

Certified Criminal Law Specialist John L. Fossum


  1. Eric Flamm says:

    This is timely information — thanks for posting.

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