Missouri’s New Expungement Law Allows Many Misdemeanor & Felony Criminal Records To Be Sealed

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Missouri’s new expungement law lets people seal many of their misdemeanor and felony criminal records, which means they will be closed to the public but still available to some “entitled” entities.

What Employers See On Your Criminal Background Report

Many people have a hard time getting a job because of their criminal history. If you have been arrested or convicted of a crime, or if you are currently on probation or parole, you should assume that information will show up on a criminal background check run by a potential employer.

You can read my previous blog post for more information about what shows up on your criminal background report.

Most employers who run a criminal background check on you will not see your closed records. However, some employers are “entitled entities,” which means they are allowed to see both open and closed records.

So, if you are applying for a job to work in a daycare, nursing home, hospital, bank, police department, etc., the employer will see your entire criminal history. (Scroll down for more information about who can see your closed or expunged criminal records.)

How To Expunge Arrests & Convictions From Your Criminal Record Under Missouri’s New Expungement Law

You can file a petition for expungement yourself, but you will have a much better chance of success if you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to file the petition and appear in court with you for the expungement hearing.

Here is the Missouri Supreme Court’s form you can use to file a petition for expungement if you don’t want to hire an attorney to do it for you.

The court charges a $350 fee to file for expungement and, if you are unsuccessful in your first attempt, you will have to wait 1 year before re-filing.

How Long Do You Have To Wait Until You Can Expunge Your Old Criminal Records?

Before you can file a petition for expungement, you must have a clean record with no pending charges for 3 years (for misdemeanors) or 7 years (for felonies) after completing probation and all other court-ordered requirements. Under the old expungement law, the waiting period was 10 years for misdemeanors and 20 years for felonies.

Among other things, you must 1) file your petition in the court where you were charged, 2) submit proof of fingerprinting, and 3) name all entities in the petition that you believe possess the records that you are trying to expunge.

After you pay the $350 fee and file the petition for expungement, the Prosecuting Attorney has 30 days to object, after which the court must hold a hearing within 60 days. If the Prosecutor does not object, the court “may” hold a hearing.

Victims of your crimes can testify at your hearing on the petition for expungement. The judge can deny your request for expungement based on the victim’s testimony alone.

On a positive note, the new expungement law creates a rebuttable presumption that a petition for expungement should be granted if you meet all the criteria.

Who Can See Your Expunged Criminal Convictions?

If the judge grants your request for expungement of an old arrest or conviction, the records will be closed to the public, but they will not be destroyed.

Prosecuting attorneys and judges will be able to see that you had a prior arrest or criminal conviction, even if you are successful in getting those records expunged.

So, for example, if you are convicted of marijuana possession and you get that conviction expunged, but then you get caught with marijuana a second time, the Prosecuting Attorney will see that you have a prior conviction and may not be as lenient in offering a plea bargain deal as they would if you were a first-time offender.

In addition, law enforcement officials can see your prior criminal convictions (even if you got them expunged) and can refuse to grant a permit to purchase or possess a gun based on those closed records.

Here are a few examples of who is entitled to see your closed records, even if you had them expunged from your criminal record:

  • Criminal Justice Agencies (Courts/Prosecuting Attorneys/Judges)
  • Law Enforcement (Police Officers)
  • Emergency Services Providers
  • Private Security Companies
  • Daycare Facilities
  • Nursing Homes
  • In-Home Healthcare Agencies
  • Banks/Credit Unions/Savings Institutions
  • Insurance Companies
  • Gaming Commissions and State-Operated Lotteries
  • The Missouri Department of Revenue
  • Any entity that is required by federal or state law to exclude applicants with certain types of convictions

If a company or entity is one of the types listed above, they will be able to see your entire criminal history and can refuse to hire you because of your expunged criminal records.

Your expunged criminal records can also be grounds for denying a professional license, certificate, or permit issued by the state of Missouri to practice your profession.

See RSMO 610.120 for more information about who can see your closed criminal records.

What Is NOT ELIGIBLE For Expungement Under Missouri’s New Expungement Law?

You can consult a criminal defense attorney or read Missouri’s new expungement law RSMO 610.140 to determine if your criminal records are eligible for expungement.

Here are some examples of crimes that CAN NOT be expunged under Missouri’s new expungement law:

  • Drug Trafficking (1st degree and 2nd degree)
  • Stealing
  • Dangerous & Violent Felonies
  • Sexual Offenses
  • Domestic Assault
  • Forgery
  • Identity Theft
  • Hate Crimes
  • Unlawful Use of a Weapon
  • 1st Degree Burglary
  • 2nd Degree Robbery
  • 1st Degree Property Damage
  • Fraudulent Use Of a Debit/Credit Device
  • Motor Vehicle Violations (If You Have A Commercial Driver’s License)

What IS ELIGIBLE For Expungement Under Missouri’s New Expungement Law?

Most misdemeanors and non-class A felonies are eligible for expungement under Missouri’s new expungement law, subject to a long list of exceptions found in RSMO 610.140.2

Some examples of crimes that CAN be expunged under Missouri’s new expungement law:

  • Marijuana Possession
  • Drug Paraphernalia Possession
  • Passing a Bad Check

How Many Expungements Are Allowed?

Under Missouri’s new expungement law, you may file only 1 petition per circuit court.

There is a lifetime limit of 1 felony and 2 misdemeanors that you can get expunged.

________________________________________
St. Louis criminal defense attorney Andrea Storey Rogers is the owner of The Rogers Law Firm. For a free consultation about your case, contact Andrea at (314) 724-5059 or [email protected]

 

Image Credit:  Brian Turner (Flickr: My Trusty Gavel) [CC BY 2.0]

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