Dayton signs expungement, kill switch bills

Gov. Mark Dayton signs legislation establishing a “kill switch” function on all smartphones and tablets sold after July 1, 2015. Tim Pugmire/MPR News

Minnesota judges will be able to permanently seal the criminal records of reformed offenders under legislation that Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law today.

Judges were already allowed to expunge court records, but not those collected by state agencies. Supporters of the change say that information frequently surfaces in background checks for jobs and housing.

Sen. Bobby Joe Champion, DFL-Minneapolis, said the new law will help remove barriers for Minnesotans who are improving their lives.

“All too often online records fail to show that an individual was convicted of a lesser crime than they were originally charged, that a person was arrested for but maybe not even charged at all,” Champion said. “ An overwhelming majority of employers refuse to hire individuals with an arrest or criminal record, regardless of how long they have since turned their lives around.”

Supporters of the bipartisan measure estimate it will help thousands of people. During the signing ceremony, Dayton implored Minnesota employers to make a better effort at assessing the character of individual job applicants.

“Get beyond this ‘one strike and you’re out forever’ approach and look at the person,” Dayton said.

Dayton also signed legislation requiring that all smartphones and tablet computers sold in Minnesota include a remote shut-off feature by July 2015.

The “kill switch” law is aimed at deterring thefts, and is the first of its kind in the nation. The new law also prohibits retailers from paying cash for used phones and tablets.

Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights, said smartphone theft has become an epidemic, and the new law is the vaccine.

“What a kill switch does very simply is take this device and with the user’s input it allows them to wipe this and make it inoperable, thus taking away its worth,” Atkins said. “When you take away the worth, you take away the incentive.”

Atkins encouraged mobile device companies to move quickly to install kill switch technology in their products before next year’s deadline. Many of those companies have already pledged to meet that timeline nationwide.

  • Tim Webb

    This is a big step in the right direction. Too frequently a one time lapse in judgment (even in someone’s youth) excludes them from employment.

  • Hey Der

    I’d like to know more about the expungement of criminal records under this legislation. Does this make the records unavailable to police investigating similar crimes? Is this after a particular period of time has passed with no additional convictions? Is it available for felons, for multiple-time offenders? What about sex offenders that we currently lock up for life? How do we define reformed?

    I know we’ve all done stupid, regrettable things, but I’d still like to know these answers.