Understanding Missouri’s new expungement laws

As of Jan. 1, 2018, Missouri’s new expungement laws went into effect. If you have a criminal conviction on your record, this new law may be just what you need to get that conviction expunged. If you are successful in your expungement attempt, not only does your conviction disappear from your record, you also have the legal right to say that you never received a conviction for the expunged crime(s).

In repealing Sections 488.650 and 610.140 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri and enacting new expungement laws in their place, the Missouri Legislature, however, not only substantially expanded the list of expungement-eligible crimes to about 1,900, it also added approximately 90 expungement-ineligible crimes. Consequently, the new laws are a double-edged sword depending on precisely what convictions you seek to expunge from your record.

Felonies and misdemeanors

Virtually all of Missouri’s newly expungeable crimes are nonviolent felonies or misdemeanors, including most drug convictions. You can expunge misdemeanors three years after you complete your sentence or probation, assuming you do not receive any additional misdemeanor convictions within that time. You can expunge felonies seven years after you complete your sentence or probation, again assuming you do not receive any additional felony convictions within that time. You also need to be aware of the fact that you can only expunge one felony offense and two misdemeanor offenses during your lifetime.

Expungement process

You must file your expungement petition in the jurisdiction in which your arrest, charge(s) and conviction(s) took place. You must list each crime or offense you want expunged and names of all the applicable prosecuting attorneys, law enforcement agencies, courts and state criminal record repositories that may have your criminal record.

The State of Missouri may object to your petition within 30 days. If it files no objections, the court must hold a hearing within 30 days of your filing. If it does so, the court must hold a hearing within 60 days of receiving the objection. In a best-case scenario, your expungement process could take as few as 120 days.

Per Section 488.650 RSMo, you must pay a $250 surcharge when you file your expungement petition. The judge has the authority to waive this surcharge, however, if (s)he finds that you cannot pay it because of your indigency.

Your best strategy when seeking an expungement is to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. The new expungement laws are complicated at best, and place far more emphasis on inexpungeable convictions that on expungeable ones. Your attorney can advise you whether or not you can expunge your specific conviction(s).