A criminal record can have devastating effects on a person’s life. That one event can end a person’s chances of getting a new job, securing a bank loan or leasing a new apartment.
Thankfully, Missouri residents have an opportunity to seal those records, preventing any non-governmental entity from seeing past criminal activity with a background check. In 2018, a new Missouri law went into effect that made it much easier for citizens to expunge minor crimes from their records.
How has the expungement law changed?
In 2016, Senate Bill 588 passed both Missouri houses and secured Governor Jay Nixon’s approval. The law added 1,900 crimes to the list of convictions eligible for expungement. These newly eligible offenses include non-violent crimes, including drug charges and crimes against property. The following crimes are not eligible for expungement:
- Class A felony
- Any “dangerous” felonies as defined by Missouri law
- Crimes requiring registration as a sex offender
- Crimes which resulted in death
- Any offense involving assault or kidnapping
Standard conditions for expungement
Crimes eligible for expungement must meet certain requirements. A person may petition for expungement with the Circuit Court of the county of the arrest if:
- Their arrest relied on false information
- No probable cause indicates the person committed the offense
- The law does not pursue charges
- The alleged offender has no prior convictions
- The courts did not grant the individual a suspended imposition of sentence
- Pending civil actions do not concern the records in the expungement petition
A court will only review petitions after a set waiting period from the date on the records. Those looking to expunge a misdemeanor must wait three years before petitioning; those with records of felonies must wait seven years. The Circuit Court then reviews the petition at a hearing within 30 days of submission.
Draft a comprehensive petition with a lawyer
Those looking to expunge a conviction or arrest from their record have found success working with a local attorney familiar with criminal law. A lawyer can help identify which government agencies have copies of a person’s criminal record and make sure an expungement petition contains all the necessary information.