Frequently Asked Questions About Missouri's New Expungement Law
The 2018 Missouri expungement law significantly expands the number of convictions that can be expunged, and dramatically shortens the time you must wait in order to apply for the expungement. While the most serious criminal offenses still cannot be expunged, all convictions are subject to expungement except as specifically identified in the new statute. Criminal offenses not eligible for expungement under the new 2018 law may be found here. If you don’t see your conviction offense listed, then your conviction is most likely eligible for expungement. Please remember that charges are often amended by the time of any plea of guilty or conviction, and that it is the final offense for which you were convicted that apply under the expungement law.
Of note, the new expungement law opens the possibility for expunging most drug-related convictions, the only drug convictions that are categorically ineligible are Class A felonies, for example, nearly all 1st-degree trafficking convictions and some 2nd-degree trafficking convictions are ruled out, as well as offenses for distribution of controlled substances in a protected location.
You cannot have been found guilty of any other misdemeanor or felony during the three or seven year period (whichever is applicable) referenced above.
You must have satisfied all of the obligations of your disposition by completion of your sentence of incarceration, paying all fines, and/or successful completion of your term of probation or parole.
There can be no pending charges against you.
Your habits and conduct must demonstrate that you are not a threat to public safety.
The expungement must be found to be consistent with the public welfare and the interests of justice.
An expungement of a criminal conviction is a “clearing” or “cleaning” of your criminal record, so that you may be restored to the status you occupied before your conviction “as if such events had never taken place.” Until now, getting a non alcohol-related criminal conviction expunged in Missouri was rare. The crimes that were eligible for expungement were very few, and the waiting periods were extremely long. However, under the new expungement law, effective January 2018, expungement is now allowed, and a clean record is now achievable, for countless Missourians that have completed their sentences and deserve the opportunity to work and live free from the continuing hindrances of prior criminal convictions. After an expungement, potential landlords, lenders, employers and more, will no longer see a prior criminal conviction in your background checks.
The file will be sealed and marked “expunged.”
Under current law, the file for an expunged conviction is to be destroyed by agencies with the records. She said court personnel always contact a victim to come forward if they wish, but the new law will give much more weight to the victim’s opinion in granting an expungement. Shepherd said that a person’s individual habits and conduct are considered during an expungement hearing, and she looks for signs that a person has changed and is contributing to the community. Brown said the new law will offer people in those positive situations more chances to move forward.
“This allows for people who have rehabilitated themselves and completed their sentences to move on in their lives, and hopefully put something that was probably a significant burden behind them,” Brown said.
Law enforcement agencies will still be able to see records that are expunged but no details of such offense will be reported in background checks for jobs, housing, loans, volunteer activities and more.
The new expungement law is probably more accurately referred to as a “record sealing law.” Current law in Missouri provides that once a petition for expungement is granted by a judge, the records of the arrest are to be destroyed. The new law provides that the records relating to the offense shall be closed. The distinction between the two is that by being sealed as opposed to destroyed, the records are still preserved and can therefore potentially be used as proof of prior criminal history if the person commits another crime.
Beginning January 1, 2018, obtaining an expungement will involve filing an expungement petition and paying the necessary filing fees, which will include an extra $250.00 expungement surcharge. Your petition must be filed in the Court where you were arrested, charged or found guilty of the misdemeanor or felony for which you are seeking expungement.
Your fingerprints must be taken and submitted to the Court, and prosecutors are to have 30 days in which to file an objection to the expungement, if they so choose. Any crime victims are to be notified and given an opportunity to express their opinions to the Court. The Court is then to hold a hearing to determine if the required length of time has passed since your conviction and that you have not thereafter run afoul of the law (standard traffic tickets will not count as law violations relevant to the Court’s determination).
Evidence must be presented to the Court that your habits and conduct demonstrate you are not a threat to public safety and that granting you an expungement is consistent with the public welfare and the interests of justice. The Court will then decide if you otherwise qualify for an expungement, and upon doing so, issue an order requiring the records of your conviction be closed.
Under the new law, in addition to the normal filing fees and costs, there is an expungement surcharge to be paid to the Court in the amount of $250. The surcharge may be waived for individuals who face financial hardship. Our firm’s attorney fees are structured based on the nature of the offense (misdemeanor or felony), and time involved in filing your petition, obtaining and presenting the necessary evidence, and completing your expungement proceeding. Please contact Robbins Law Firm at (573) 444-4420 or schedule a free consultation and case review with our attorneys.
Once you have obtained an expungement of your criminal offense, you may answer “No” as to the expunged offense if you are asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime. However, please note that a person who has successfully expunged one (1) or more offense from their record does not mean that they will never have to disclose that they were convicted of a crime. The new expungement law requires that anyone granted an expungement is required to disclose a conviction under certain circumstances if such profession requires a license, certificate, or permit issued by the State of Missouri. A conviction must also be disclosed if the individual is applying for employment in the following areas: emergency services providers; law enforcement agencies; banks or credit unions; the insurance industry; and any job where the employer is required to exclude applicants with criminal convictions from employment due to federal or state law. Remember to consult an attorney if you don’t know how to answer that question on an application.