Many Missourian Employees Still Don't Know About Expanded Expungement Opportunities
Missouri greatly expanded its expungement statutes in 2018, however many people who have old criminal convictions are not taking advantage of it.
A criminal conviction can be one of the largest impediments to getting a new job. Although some states have enacted "ban the box" legislation, inquires into applicant's criminals histories remains the norm. The best course of action for someone with an old conviction is a expungement of that record. Missouri has recently made it easier for those seeking to clean up their record. Below is a brief overview of the expungement process in Missouri.
Missouri's Expungement Laws
The state of Missouri allows for the expungement of criminal convictions and arrests if an individual meets certain criteria. These criteria are laid out in a series of statutes set out in Chapter 610 of the Revised Missouri Statutes. The following information provides a brief background of the law and Missouri’s exciting new Expungement Statute.
How the Expungement Process Works
The Petitioner (the individual seeking an expungement) must file in the court where he/she was charged or found guilty of the offenses or offenses he/she is seeking to expunge. The Petitioner must name as defendants any person or agency he/she believes may possess the records subject to expungement for each offense, violation, and/or infraction listed in the Petition (i.e. all law enforcement agencies, courts, prosecuting or circuit attorneys, municipal prosecuting attorneys, central state repositories of criminal records, etc..). Once filed, the defendants have 30 days to respond or file any objections. A hearing will then be held to determine if the Petitioner is eligible for an expungement.
Expungement of Felony and Misdemeanor Convictions
For many years, individuals convicted of a felony or misdemeanor in the State of Missouri were forced endure the stigma of such convictions without relief. Except for a very limited number of obscure offenses, felony and misdemeanor convictions in the State of Missouri meant a lifetime of being burdened by old mistakes for many people. However, in 2018, the Missouri legislature enacted RSMo § 610.140 and greatly expanded the list of crimes eligible for expungement. On July 9, 2019, Gov. Mike Parson again expanded the list of the expungable offenses to further include stealing and stealing-related offenses.
Unfortunately, there are convictions which are not eligible for expungement. Broadly speaking, Class A felonies, dangerous felonies as defined in §556.061 RSMo, any offense requiring registration as a sex offender, a felony assault offense, or a felony conviction for the offense of kidnapping cannot be expunged. Traffic convictions committed by those holding a commercial driver’s license also cannot be expunged. DWIs must be expunged under §610.130 RSMo. Additionally, the Petitioner must not have any subsequent misdemeanor or felony convictions.
If a Petitioner’s offense is eligible for an expungement under §610.140 RSMo, a period of time must still pass before it qualifies for expungement. From today’s date backwards, at least 7 years must have passed since the Petitioner completed the conditions of his/her sentence for a felony conviction, including probation, parole, the payment of fines and restitution. At least 3 years must have passed since the Petitioner completed the conditions of his/her sentence for a misdemeanor conviction, including probation, parole, the payment of fines and restitution.
Expungement of DWI Convictions
Records of prior DWI arrests and convictions may be the most common form of hinderance holding back Missourians every day. Fortunately for many, the ability to remove an old DWI arrest and conviction from their record is available if they simply decide to take action. DWI (and Boating While Intoxicated) expungements are outlined in §610.130 RSMo. This statute lays out the necessary criteria for expungement. In order to be granted an expungement of a DWI conviction in Missouri, a Petitioner must meet the following prerequisites:
It has been at least 10 years since the date of the DWI plea or conviction; and
The offense to be expunged is the first and only plea and/or conviction for an alcohol-related driving offense (DWI); and
The offense was not committed while operating a commercial motor vehicle, and the Petitioner does not currently hold a commercial motor vehicle license; and
The person has no other alcohol-related charges or alcohol-related enforcement actions pending at the time of the hearing.