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Missouri appeals court upholds expungement decision

Sometimes, people make mistakes, and those mistakes can lead to a conviction of felony or misdemeanor charges. Because a criminal record can have a significant impact on the rest of a person's life, prohibiting him or her from finding employment or even a place to live in some locations, some people in Missouri choose to seek an expungement if they meet certain conditions. An expungement, according to an appellate court, is a second chance for those who can prove that they are not a threat to public safety through their "habits and conduct."

A man in Missouri sought to have his record expunged. He was convicted of two different peace disturbances in Oct. 2010 and Oct. 2012, both misdemeanor convictions. For the first, he paid a fine, and for the second, he successfully completed two years of probation. Because it had been at least three years from his misdemeanor conviction and he had not been found guilty of other crimes, the judge agreed to erase the convictions.

However, the Missouri Highway Patrol disagreed with that decision, asking a higher court to overrule it. The appeals court recently ruled that the lower court's decision was "well-reasoned and correct." The court further stated that it declined to refer to the man by anything other than his initials in court documents as doing so would defeat the purpose of expungement by entering the petitioner's name in public record. If full names were used, the court claimed, opponents of expungements might be encouraged to appeal the decision simply to keep the issue as a matter of public record while those denied a request may decline to appeal the decision for the same reason.

People have made mistakes in Missouri often spend the rest of their lives proving that their mistake does not define them. Expungement offers them the opportunity to clear their record, potentially opening up additional opportunities for them. An attorney with experience with the process can determine whether a person meets the requirements and initiate the process.

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