You can now petition the court of Missouri to close or permanently remove some of your criminal records.
The first Missouri expungement law that became effective on January 1, 2018, allowed some misdemeanors and felony crimes to be expunged after a period of time. A new law that is expected to be voted on in November 2022 will make further changes regarding the expungement of misdemeanors and some felonies.
Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center can provide additional information, but here are the basics of what you need to know about these changes.
Getting a Fresh Start
A criminal record can negatively impact you all your life. It can affect your employment, licensure, housing and even increase your penalties if you find yourself involved in another crime.
Fortunately, expungement can stop all of this from happening to you. It will be like having a fresh start or a clean slate. Your rights will be restored to their status before the criminal conviction or arrest.
It is advisable to get a well-qualified lawyer to help you through your Missouri expungement process, as it can get complicated, especially for someone who is not familiar with legal processes.
Before you get started, it is important to note that in most instances your records won’t be expunged if you have a previous conviction. Work with your lawyer to see what options may be available to you.
Are you Eligible for Expungement?
More people are becoming eligible for expungement with Missouri’s recent law changes. In fact, some cases are becoming automatically expunged without the long, tedious process. For instance, SB – 509 under section 610.132 allows any person convicted for an offense related to marijuana possession and who has obtained a patient identification card to have their records automatically expunged as of August 28, 2021.
The only condition is that the offense must have occurred and been prosecuted within the state of Missouri.
Once your records are expunged, you are not required to disclose information to anyone inquiring about your previous convictions or arrests.
Expungement of Criminal Records
You can apply to have almost any offense expunged. But, some crimes cannot be expunged, according to section 610.140.
For example, all class A felonies are ineligible for expungement, including:
- Domestic assault
- Dangerous felonies
- Driving while intoxicated
- And any offense that requires registration as a sex offender
Moreover, there are some crimes that may or may not be eligible depending on the underlying circumstances. For example, burglary in the first degree cannot be expunged; however, burglary or theft in the second degree can be cleared.
Additional Expungement Info
Under the current Missouri expungement law, more offenses are becoming eligible for expungement. Stealing, for example, wasn’t eligible for expungement before, but now it is. Therefore, if you have a criminal record, it may be prudent to check in with your attorney to see if you can take advantage of the legal changes.
Subsection 610.140.12 sets a limit to the number of expungements one can have. You are entitled to clear up to one felony and two misdemeanor convictions – anything above that will stay on your record for life.
Alcohol-related traffic and boating offenses are also eligible for expungement, but only after a period of 10 years. In addition, some previously serious crimes, like nonpayment of child support, can also be expunged under section 568.040.6(3)(a).
If you have been arrested, you can apply for expungement after three years from the day of arrest, provided that you are not guilty of any other felony or misdemeanor offense.
To summarize — if you’ve committed a minor offense in the past, check with your lawyer to see if it is eligible for expungement. Missouri lawmakers have made critical changes that can make your life easier, and you may be able to get a new start.