Getting caught in a crime makes your life difficult even after you've completed your sentence. But, depending on your circumstances, you may be able to permanently put your charges in the past.
Expungement is a process that can seal your past mistakes from your criminal record so that they don't appear in background checks. Here's how to qualify.
Not every type of crime is eligible for expungement. However, since a new Missouri law went into effect January 2018, more convictions are eligible for expungement than ever before.
In many cases, if you are a first-time DWI offender or have a misdemeanor or nonviolent felony conviction, you will be eligible to have your record expunged. You are also able to list multiple offenses on your petition. However, violent crimes, sex crimes and repeat DWI offenses cannot be expunged.
If you decide to petition for expungement, you will have to apply in the court in which you were found guilty and include in your petition the names of all entities that may have records of the offenses you want expunged. This may include law enforcement agencies, courts, attorneys or others.
There is also a waiting period associated with expungement. Those with misdemeanor offenses will have to wait three years from their date of conviction before they can get an expungement. Those with felony convictions will have to wait seven years. There cannot be any new offenses, except minor traffic violations, during the waiting period.
Having a criminal record can make it difficult to move on from any crimes you may have committed. However, expungement may be the best path toward a fulfilling future.