December 7, 2010
In State v. A.V.G. (Minnesota Court of Appeals, March 16, 2010 (A09892)), the defendant was charged with disorderly conduct and domestic assault based upon of one incident of conduct. At trial, A.V.G. was found not guilty of domestic assault but guilty of disorderly conduct. A.V.G. sought to expunge the court and BCA records of only the domestic assault charge which he was found not guilty of (but not of his conviction for disorderly conduct) using Minnesota Statute 609A. The district court granted this expungement request, and the state appealed the order of expungement of the records of the domestic assault charge.
The Court of Appeals agreed with the state and reversed the expungement order. The court reasoned that although A.V.G. had been found not guilty of domestic assault, he had been convicted of another charge from the same course of conduct. The court interpreted that this was not a resolution in favor of A.V.G. as required by 609A to grant an expungement of executive branch records.
Judge Randall wrote a concurring opinion where he agreed with the interpretation of 609A as presently written and applied in this case. However, he suggested that the legislature should amend the expungement statute so that evidence of partial acquittals (at least the charge the person was found not guilty of at trial) could be expunged. He even when on further to explain that his proposal for expungement of not guilty verdicts would not extend to charges dismissed as part of a plea bargain. Whether this suggestion will be undertaken remains to be seen.