What Is an Expungement and How Do You Get One in Missouri?

Kimberly2 1Author:

Kimberly J. Benjamin, Founder & Managing Attorney

Criminal records can do a lot of damage to your life, even if they are a result of a mistake when you are very young. A criminal conviction, even just a misdemeanor, can have a lasting effect on your personal and professional life. In some cases, it can affect your education as well.

If you made a mistake at one point in your life that resulted in the criminal record, you may find yourself wishing that it was no longer affecting your future. There is good news for those who have a previous criminal record but no current legal problems. An expungement may be the way for you to get a fresh start and move on so that your previous conviction no longer affects your future.

What exactly is an expungement?

At its most basic, an expungement is a court order to remove a mark from your criminal record. Missouri allows people to request expungements of convictions as well as for records of an arrest, even if that arrest did not result in criminal charges or a conviction. That means that an expungement is a legal way to undo the damage caused by your criminal record.

How do you get an expungement?

Obtaining an expungement isn’t always easy, but it doesn’t have to be extremely hard either. You will have to file a formal request with the courts. This typically also involves paying a substantial fee. Then, you will have a hearing in front of a judge.

You will want to have documentation at that hearing to substantiate your claim that you are now an upstanding, law-abiding citizen who does not need to have their future impacted by a previous criminal mistake.

The judge will weigh all the information provided and make a determination. There is no guarantee that a judge will approve your expungement request. That is one reason why people choose to partner with an attorney. Working with a lawyer can improve your chances by helping you avoid some of the simple mistakes that can keep you from securing an expungement.

What crimes can you have taken off your record?

If you want to expunge criminal records related to an arrest, there generally are not limits on the nature of the arrest, provided that there was no conviction afterward. If you want to expunge a conviction or guilty plea, there are stricter limits in place.

Misdemeanors are typically options for expungement, while felonies are more complicated. If you have a felony conviction, you probably want to sit down with an attorney to see if your offense is even eligible for expungement. If an expungement is an option, you can discuss strategy and start moving toward a brighter future without a criminal record holding you back.

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