Currently, Missouri’s expungement laws are very limited. But, a new law was signed in 2016 that changes the state’s expungement rules. In 2018, it will be possible to expunge most Missouri convictions. An expungement removes a criminal offense from your record for most purposes—making it easier to get a job, housing or an education.
Expungement of Juvenile Criminal Records
In Missouri, most juvenile criminal records are confidential unless they involve a Class A felony or murder charge. However, you can ask the court to expunge your juvenile records if you are at least 17 years old and expungement is in your best interest. If the court expunges your juvenile record, the documents are destroyed.
Expungement of Adult Criminal Records
In Missouri, you may currently expunge a limited variety of convictions, including bad check offenses, alcohol-related offenses, disturbing the peace, gambling, and trespassing. However, significant waiting periods apply. You must wait:
You cannot have any subsequent convictions and must have paid all court-ordered fees and restitution. You must also show a history of good behavior and rehabilitation.
You may also expunge records related to a non-conviction, including charges that were:
You cannot seal arrest records concerning a serious or violent felony. If you need help determining your eligibility for an expungement, contact a criminal lawyer.
To request an expungement, you must file either a Petition for Expungement of Arrest Records or a Petition for Expungement of Arrest/Plea/Trial/Conviction with the court. The prosecuting attorney will be notified of your request and a hearing will be scheduled. Based upon the evidence and testimony, the judge will issue a decision either granting or denying your expungement.
The 2016 Expungement Law
Beginning in 2018, expungement will become more available in Missouri. A new law permits expungement if you were:
- Convicted of a non-Class A felony, or
- Convicted of a misdemeanor.
There are significant exceptions to this new rule—you cannot expunge violent, sexual, or serious criminal offenses. The waiting periods are also significantly shorter. You may expunge a misdemeanor three years after completing your sentence. A felony can be expunged seven years after the sentence is completed.
Additionally, the new law shifts the burden of proof to the prosecutor in your claim. If you meet the statutory requirements of the expungement law, your petition should be approved—unless the prosecutor can show that it would not be in the public’s best interest. The prosecutor only has 30 days to object to your petition and a hearing must be held in 60 days.
However, there are also new restrictions placed on Missouri expungements. Under the new law, you may only expunge one felony and two misdemeanors in your lifetime. And, expunged records will not be destroyed and may be available to law enforcement and other public agencies.
Associated Fees and Paperwork
You must pay a $100 filing fee with your petition. If you hire an expungement or criminal defense lawyer, you may also be charged for attorney fees and other costs.
Implications of a Successful Expungement
If the court grants your petition, you may lawfully state that the expunged criminal record does not exist. When most employers search your Missouri criminal record, the charges will not be present. Expunged records will still be available to law enforcement and other agencies. You may also have to disclose your criminal record when applying for certain professional licenses.
Consulting an Attorney
In order to expunge a criminal record, you must submit specific paperwork and may have to attend a hearing. A criminal lawyer or expungement lawyer can help guide you through the expungement process and insure that you have the correct information in your request. Additionally, a lawyer can speak on your behalf during any necessary court hearings and give you the best chance of expunging your record.