For years, it was very difficult for a convicted criminal in Missouri to get that conviction removed from their record, no matter how trivial or old the conviction.
The result found many people carrying the baggage of bad decisions made in their youth – a credit-card forgery, an assault in a bar – for the rest of their lives. The most obvious damage came when the record was uncovered after they applied for jobs or places to live.
A new law helps solve the problem
The Missouri legislature worked to help alleviate that problem in 2016 with a law that went into effect just over one year ago. The law provided the ability to expunge roughly 1,900 crimes from your record if several conditions have been met:
- It has been seven years since your felony conviction or three years since your misdemeanor conviction
- You were not convicted of a crime previously and you have not been convicted of a crime subsequently
- You have paid restitution for the conviction
- You have shown you are not a threat to society
To expunge your record means that the conviction is sealed and you don’t have to tell anyone you were convicted of that crime.
What’s not eligible, and what happens next
While many convictions are eligible for expungement, the law lists several hundred that are not eligible. These include Class A felonies, any offense requiring registration as a sex offender, conviction for assault, kidnapping, or any dangerous felony as defined in Section 556.061 of the state’s revised statutes.
To expunge your record, you must:
- File the petition in the court where you were charged and found guilty
- List all the offenses you seek to have expunged
- Have met the requirements regarding time and behavior listed above
- Wait for 30 days – the clerk of court will notify the prosecuting attorney, circuit attorney or municipal court of your petition and allow them 30 days to object to the petition
- Pay a $250 filing fee
After the conviction itself, having your record expunged might be one of the most important legal maneuvers you will conduct in your life. It is in your best interest to get advice from a qualified, expert attorney as you try to seal your record.