An arrest, and the possible charges and subsequent conviction that could follow, can change the course of your life for years to come. In several instances, however, these offenses don’t have to haunt you for the rest of your life through expungement. Below are a few essential questions answered about the process through the lens of Missouri law.
What You Need to Know About Expungement in Missouri
What is expungement?
Expungement is a court-ordered process that “seals” the legal record of an arrest or a criminal conviction, meaning that they are no longer public knowledge. When these details are sealed, the court erases them from your criminal record in the eyes of the law—meaning they are no longer on background checks for applications for jobs, housing, or otherwise.
How does it work?
The exact procedure varies by state, but generally, if you want to expunge an arrest or criminal conviction, you first fill out an application or petition. You then submit these documents to the court where you received charges for a judge’s review.
In Missouri, specifically, the application costs $250, and you must name all law enforcement agencies, courts, municipal prosecuting attorneys, state repositories of criminal records, and others that you believe have records of what you’d like expunged. This process also has an implied wait period after conviction in this state—seven years for a felony and three years for a misdemeanor—but there is a possibility for procuring it sooner in certain circumstances. The State of Missouri will then have 30 days to file objections to your petition, and the court must hold a hearing within 60 days of the opposition or 30 days if there is no objection.
What crimes can be expunged?
Most can, but there are a handful of more severe crimes that are not eligible for expungement:
- Class A violent felonies
- Dangerous felonies
- Any offense that requires registration as a sex offender
- Domestic assault
- Driving while intoxicated
My arrest didn't result in any charges filed, but the arrest itself keeps popping up on background checks. Can I seal my record to prevent this from happening?
Yes, you are entitled to erase your record if the arrest was based on false information. In Missouri, all of the following must also be true for you to expunge your record successfully:
- There wasn’t probable cause that points to you as the perpetrator
- You weren’t charged with the crime in question
- You don’t have a prior record
- You didn’t receive a suspended imposition of sentence for the offense
- There is no pending civil action related to the arrest you want to expunge
If you’re heading into the expungement process, a trusted attorney can represent you at the hearing that will eventually follow. Residents of Columbia, MO, turn to The Law Office of Lorri Kline for legal counsel when they need it most. Their firm takes pride in the personalized attention and depth of resources that they can provide their clients as they devise solutions to their cases. For help expunging your records in Missouri, call their team at (573) 442-1646 to schedule an initial consultation, or visit their website for more information.