Expungement Checklist: Do You Qualify?
The American criminal justice system may impose penalties upon individuals convicted of crimes, but it also allows for rehabilitation and opportunities for certain offenders to address previous convictions and clear the path for a more productive, law-abiding life. This includes expungement, a legal process that can remove convictions from a criminal record. Record sealing, which is a different process under Missouri Law, prevents public access to a conviction.
At The Hammer Law Firm, LLC, our St. Louis criminal defense lawyers have cultivated a reputation for not only providing the aggressive and effective defense clients need when facing serious allegations, but also the guidance and representation required when they need to navigate other legal proceedings in our criminal justice system, including expungement.
If you or a loved one have been convicted of a crime, you may be eligible for expungement under Missouri law. Under current law, you may qualify for an expungement if:
- You were convicted of certain misdemeanor offenses, including first-degree trespassing, public drunkenness, DWIs older than 10 years, prostitution, negligent burning, juvenile alcohol offenses, disturbing the peace, and several other misdemeanors.
- You were convicted of felony passing a bad check (the only felony currently eligible for expungement in Missouri).
- You do not have a prior felony conviction, a sex offense conviction, or requirements to register as a sex offender.
- You have not been convicted of other misdemeanors five years prior to petitioning for expungement.
- You have not petitioned for expungement since your conviction.
In addition to helping clients understand if they qualify for expungement and guiding them through the steps of petitioning the courts, we also provide assistance to clients who may be eligible for record sealing, also known as a record closure. Under certain circumstances – including suspended sentences or dismissed, dropped, or revised charges – you may be eligible to have an arrest closed.
Expanding Expungement Laws in Missouri
Missouri has strict qualifying criteria for expungement under current laws, but those laws will soon change. In 2016, Missouri passed a law (SB-588) to extend expungement relief to include a broader range of non-violent and non-sexual misdemeanors and felonies, and reduce the waiting period for expungable felonies from 20 years to 7 years and misdemeanors from 10 to 3 years.
The new law, which will take effect in 2018, is a notable change to Missouri’s criminal justice system, and one that prioritizes rehabilitation of offenders through leniency and elimination of the stigmas created by a criminal record. Some notable points about the new law include:
- All misdemeanors and all non-Class A felonies will be eligible for expungement (with exceptions).
- Dangerous and violent felonies, sexual offenses, and various corruption or weapons violations will not be eligible for expungement.
- Individuals will only be eligible for two misdemeanor expungements and one felony expungement in a lifetime.
Under current law or the new law set to take effect, expungement can carry significant benefits for individuals who are looking to move forward with their lives after criminal convictions. This is largely due to the fact that, in many situations, individuals can legally report to prospective employers that they have never been convicted of a crime.
Our legal team at The Hammer Law Firm, LLC are committed to helping clients protect their futures. If you have questions about expungement eligibility and how we may be able to help you, contact us for a FREE Consultation.