If you’ve ever applied for a job or filled out a housing application, you’ve likely encountered the question, “Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a criminal offense?” Those with an arrest or conviction in their past can have a harder time navigating typical life changes like these. One way to make the process easier is to get the arrest or conviction record expunged.
Kimberly J. Benjamin, Founder & Managing Attorney
Published: December 6. 2019.
Updated: December 6. 2019.
Expungement Missouri FAQs
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about expungement, answered by the criminal law experts at The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center.
What Is Expungement?
Expungement is the process of destroying or erasing a conviction, guilty plea, or arrest on someone’s record. If a record is expunged, it can no longer be accessed by the public and will not appear on background checks. It’s almost as if the offense never happened in the first place. In fact, it is perfectly legal to say “no” when asked if you have been convicted of a crime as long as the conviction has been expunged.
How Does It Work?
Each state determines whether criminal records can be removed and how to go about doing it.
Expungement of Guilty Pleas in Missouri
Arrests and guilty pleas that are the most commonly expunged in Missouri are first offenses of Minor in Possession (MIP), DWI, and some property crimes.
Expungement of Arrests
Missouri law allows expungement in arrests in any type of case if certain criteria are met, but only if there was no guilty plea to the charge for which the person is arrested or an amendment from that charge. Any guilty plea after the arrest prevents expungement in this scenario. The list of crimes that can be expunged for arrests without a guilty plea is much greater than the list of crimes that can be expunged with a guilty plea.
Evidence Required for Expungement Missouri
The Expungement Petitioner must prove the following elements at an expungement hearing:
An appropriate amount of time has elapsed since the time the person completed the sentence of imprisonment and the period of probation or parole.
Not found guilty of misdemeanor or felony during that time, not including minor traffic offenses.
Restitution paid if ordered in the underlying case
Circumstances & behavior of petitioner warrant expungement.
Expungement is consistent with “public welfare”.
If Expungement Petition Is Granted
The Missouri Central repository sends the expunge order to the FBI. All rights are restored with some exceptions that you will need to discuss with your attorney.
If Expungement Petition Is Denied
If an expungement petition is denied for failing to meet the criteria for expungement, then the expungement petitioner must wait one year from the date of the dismissal of the expungement petition to refile a new expungement petition.
What Can You Expunge?
Some types of arrests, pleas, trials or convictions; a petitioner can seek more than
one offense to be expunged in the same petition.
Where to File?
The county where plea/conviction occurred; even if municipal case.
Who to name as defendants in Petition for Expungement Missouri?
All law enforcement agencies, courts, prosecutors, central state repositories of criminal records, or anyone who has possession of records subject to expungement.
When Can a Petitioner Qualify?
Three years after a misdemeanor or infraction, 7 years after a felony, and 10 years after a DWI – the time period starts after the date that imprisonment or probation ends.
The most common engagements involve first offenses of Minor in Possession (MIP), DWI, and some property crimes. For further information about the types of offenses that qualify for expungement, contact The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center.
Missouri Expungement Statute
Mo. Rev. Stat. § 311.326 sets forth the requirements and procedures for expunging a conviction for possession or purchase of alcohol by a minor under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 311.325. If you plead guilty to this offense or were found guilty following a trial, you do not become eligible to apply for an order to expunge your records until at least one year has passed following their 21st birthday, or, in other words, on or after their 22nd birthday. Once this statutory timeframe has passed, you then can apply to expunge all official records of your arrest, plea, trial, and conviction to this offense.
The court is required to grant your request for expungement in this situation, except in the following situations:
You are licensed as a commercial driver or you were operating a commercial motor vehicle at the time of the violation.
You have been convicted of another alcohol-related offense at the time of your application for expungement.
You have had other alcohol-related enforcement contacts at the time of your application for expungement.
If your application is granted, it will restore you to the status that you held prior to the conviction, just as if it had never happened. After receiving an order of expungement, you will not perjure yourself or give a false statement if you fail to acknowledge or admit the arrest, plea, trial, conviction, or expungement in the future. However, courts or other state officials may retain records of the expungement in order to ensure that you receive only one expungement under this statute.
This expungement statute can be extremely helpful for the many individuals who simply made a mistake and were caught with alcohol while under the age of 21. By simply avoiding further alcohol-related violations, you can avoid the negative effects of this conviction when it shows up on background checks by landlords, employers, and more.
DWI Expungement Missouri Overview
Having a DWI offense on your criminal record can negatively impact your life for years following your arrest. Many employers are hesitant to hire candidates with a DWI offense on their record. Landlords and educational institutions can also choose to reject your application if a DWI offense shows up on your background check. Fortunately, there is a way for some DWI offenders to prevent their past from destroying their future. Here’s what you should know about expunging DWI offenses:
Who Can Expunge DWI Offenses?
Some DWI offenders are eligible for expungement in Missouri. The law states that first-time offenders who have pleaded guilty or been convicted of misdemeanor DWI qualify for expungement. However, this does not apply to people who were driving a commercial vehicle when they were arrested for DWI. It also does not apply to people who have been convicted of another intoxication-related offense since the time of their first offense.
It’s important to note that DWI offenders cannot immediately ask for their records to be expunged following a conviction or guilty plea. The law specifically states that DWI offenders must wait at least 10 years to request expungement.
How to Expunge DWI Records
The first step is applying for expungement in the same court where you plead guilty or were convicted. After the paperwork is processed, the court will schedule a hearing within 30 days. During this hearing, the judge will determine whether or not you are eligible for expungement. If you meet the criteria and there are no objections from law enforcement agencies, the judge will approve your request to expunge your DWI record.
Expungement seems like a simple process, but it’s actually quite complicated. For this reason, it is in your best interest to work with an attorney instead of attempting to expunge your record on your own.
If your criminal record is affecting your life, contact the attorneys at The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center at once. Let our criminal defense attorneys walk you through the process of expunging your record so you can live life to the fullest.
DWI Expungement Missouri Eligibility
You may be able to expunge a driving while intoxicated (DWI) or boating while intoxicated (BWI) guilty plea from your past if you are eligible to do so under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 610.130. After ten years have passed since you plead guilty or were found guilty at trial of an intoxication-related traffic or boating offense that was a misdemeanor or a county or city ordinance violation, you qualify for an expungement order as to all official records related to the offense. However, you also must meet the following requirements in order to be eligible for relief:
Your conviction was your first offense of this nature.
Your conviction was NOT for driving a commercial motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.
You have not been convicted of any subsequent intoxication-related traffic or boating offenses.
You have had no subsequent alcohol-related enforcement contacts.
You have no other intoxication-related traffic or boating offenses pending at the time of the court hearing on your expungement application.
If you meet all of the stated requirements, then the judge must grant you an order of expungement.
The effect of this expungement is to restore you to your pre-conviction status. You will not be guilty of perjury or making false statements if you do not acknowledge the arrest, plea, trial, conviction, or expungement in the future. All of your court records with respect to the conviction and the expungement will be made confidential and only made available to the parties or by order of the court, for good cause shown. You are only eligible to receive one expungement under this section. The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center has the reputation and skills that you want and need when defending yourself against criminal charges related to DWI defense and traffic tickets and points. Our goal is to assist you in building the strongest defense available in your case. We also can assist you with the expungement process, which can help improve your future by sealing your previous criminal records.
Expungement Missouri Lawyers
Missouri’s new expungement law has given many people an opportunity of a lifetime: expunge an offense from your record and be able to assert that you were not convicted of a crime. For those in the job market, an expungement can open new doors that may have previously been closed. For those looking for housing, an expungement can help them apply for rentals confidently. And for anyone with a criminal record, it’s a chance to formally move on from your charges with a clean slate. But the law itself is complex, and you will need the assistance of an experienced Missouri criminal defense attorney to successfully navigate the expungement process. In the meantime, here are some quick facts on Missouri’s new expungement law that can help you determine whether an expungement is right for you.
Not all crimes can be expunged. While the range of crimes that are eligible has increased significantly, some, such as violent offenses, remain ineligible. Speak with a Missouri expungement attorney to determine whether this is an option for you.
There is a waiting period. Typically, you will need to wait seven years from the disposition date for a felony expungement and three for a misdemeanor expungement. The waiting periods are not explicitly required, however, so consult with an attorney if you want to file a petition for expungement sooner.
The State of Missouri has 30 days to object to your petition for expungement, meaning the process is not guaranteed. Again, this is a good reason to work with an attorney on your expungement, which will give you the best chance of having your request granted.
There is a $250 fee for filing the petition. The court may waive this fee if you lack the financial resources.
You can legally answer NO when asked if you’ve ever been convicted of a crime (at least in regards to the crime expunged) if your crime is expunged. This means you do not have to disclose the conviction when applying for housing or jobs with most employers.
These quick facts should give you an idea of whether an expungement is right for you and an overview of the general process. But for more personalized legal advice and assistance, you should consult with a Missouri expungement attorney about the details of your case. Again, the expungement law is complicated and many crimes are ineligible. An attorney can help you determine whether you are eligible for expungement and help you complete the process step by step.
Prostitution Expungement Missouri
According to Mo. Rev. Stat. § 610.131, individuals who pled guilty to or were found guilty of prostitution when they were under the age of 18 may apply for an order of expungement regarding all official records related to their arrest, plea, trial, and conviction. The court is required to enter an order of expungement in this situation if, after holding a hearing, it finds that the individuals were acting under the coercion of an agent when committing the offense. As used in this statute, coercion is defined as:
Threats of serious harm or physical restraint
Any scheme that is intended to make people believe that failure to perform an act would result in serious harm or physical restraint, or
The abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process
If you are eligible for and receive an order of expungement in this situation, then you are restored to the same status that you had prior to the prostitution conviction, just as if it had never occurred. Similar to other expungement statutes, you will not commit perjury or give a false statement if you do not acknowledge the arrest, plea, trial, conviction, and expungement of the prostitution offense. The records related to this matter will remain confidential and will be released only to the parties or by court order based on a good cause.
Having a conviction for prostitution on your record will appear every time a prospective employer, school, or landlord does a background check. The presence of this conviction, regardless of the circumstances, could cause you to lose out on jobs, prohibit you from following certain career paths, and make it more difficult to better yourself. As a result, expungement of a prior prostitution conviction can be highly beneficial to your future. If you have questions about expungement of your criminal records, you will greatly benefit from the legal advice that you only can get from an experienced criminal defense lawyer. The experts at The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center have the skills and knowledge that will benefit you in handling your criminal charge and/or your expungement case as needed.
Missouri Felony Pardon
While both expungements and pardons can give you some relief from a criminal offense, they are not the same thing. The power to pardon individuals from criminal convictions is vested in the governor. All applications for pardons go through the Board of Probation and Parole, which is responsible for investigating the situations and making recommendations to the governor.
Pardons are not available until three years following the discharge from a criminal sentence, provided that there are no intervening charges or convictions. There also are no specific criteria that govern when the governor will pardon individuals or when the Board of Probation and Parole will recommend a pardon. There is no absolute right to a pardon and governors historically have granted pardons very sparingly.
On the other hand, expungement is a tool available to anyone who qualifies for it. Expungement simply removes criminal records from public view; all records will be destroyed except court records, which will be made confidential and will be available only to the parties absent a court order. This is beneficial to many people because with a few exceptions, background checks, which many employers require, will not reveal the existence of these records.
As long as they meet the requisite criteria, individuals can expunge one felony conviction and two misdemeanor convictions during their lifetimes. While not all crimes are eligible for expungement, particularly if they are assault and violent crimes or sex crimes, non-Class A felony and misdemeanor conviction are generally eligible for expungement.
Individuals must wait three years following the completion of their sentences for misdemeanor convictions, and seven for felonies. During these waiting periods, individuals cannot be convicted of any other criminal offenses. The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center has the reputation and skills that you want and need when defending yourself against criminal charges related to DWI, traffic violations, and other matters.
Our goal is to assist you in building the strongest defense available in your case. We also can assist you with the expungement process, which can help improve your future by sealing your previous criminal records. Do not hesitate to contact The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center at (816) 318-7943.
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