A Marijuana Ticket Stays On Your Criminal Record Forever Unless You Get It Expunged

marijuana ticket

If you plead guilty to a marijuana ticket (even if it’s just a tiny amount), it will stay on your criminal record forever unless you get it expunged.

How To Get A Marijuana Ticket Expunged From Your Criminal Record

Expungement (removal) of marijuana and drug paraphernalia convictions is now possible in Missouri since the law changed in January 2018.

You have to wait 3 years after the conviction date to file a petition for expungement, and you must have a clean criminal record during that 3-year period of time.

You can file a petition for expungement yourself without hiring an attorney, but it is a complicated procedure. If your petition is rejected because you made a mistake, you will have to wait 1 year before re-filing.

There is a lifetime limit of 2 misdemeanors that you are allowed to get expunged in Missouri.

I discuss Missouri’s new expungement law in more detail in my previous blog post, “Missouri’s new expungement law allows many misdemeanor and felony records to be sealed.

Jail Time Is Possible If You Plead Guilty To A Marijuana Ticket

Possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana is a class A misdemeanor in Missouri. The maximum possible penalty is 1 year in jail and a fine of $2,000.

First-time possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana is a class D misdemeanor in Missouri. The maximum possible penalty is a fine of $500 but no jail time. If you are NOT a first-time offender, a marijuana ticket for 10 grams or less is a class A misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of 1 year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Click here to read Missouri’s marijuana law, RSMO 579.015.

You can read more about why you should not plead guilty to a marijuana ticket in my blog post, “How To Keep Possession Of Marijuana Charges Off Your Criminal Record.” 

Hire An Attorney To Fight Your Marijuana Ticket

An experienced attorney can help you avoid having a marijuana ticket on your criminal record.

In many cases, a marijuana ticket can be reduced to “Littering” and the defendant only has to pay a fine and court costs, with no court appearance required. In other cases, a marijuana ticket can be dismissed after probation is completed with no fine payment required.

Your attorney will discuss your case with you and give you an estimate of what kind of plea bargain deal is possible, including the amount of the fines and court costs that you will have to pay.

Criminal defense attorneys who have experience handling marijuana tickets usually offer a free consultation and can give you a flat-fee price quote for how much they will charge to represent you.

How To Find Out If You Qualify For A Public Defender For Your Marijuana Ticket

Unfortunately, public defenders don’t represent people for marijuana tickets in most municipal courts in Missouri.

But if your marijuana ticket is being prosecuted in state court (county circuit court) and you can prove you have no income, you might qualify. You will have to contact the public defender’s office in the county in which your case is being prosecuted and fill out an application to see if you qualify to have a public defender represent you.
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Call St. Louis marijuana attorney Andrea Storey Rogers for a free consultation about your Missouri drug charges. Call Andrea at (314) 724-5059 or email her at [email protected]

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

Missed Court Date

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.

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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]