Missouri Expungement Lawyer
A criminal conviction or guilty plea, or even just an arrest, can have profound consequences that you may not have expected or understood at the time. You may have trouble finding the employment you deserve Fortunately under Missouri law, in many cases your arrest, plea, trial, and conviction can be expunged, meaning you can petition the court to close the records of your case maintained by the State of Missouri. If the court grants your request, in most cases you will not have to disclose the conviction, and most of the collateral consequences of the offense will no longer apply to you. Missouri has several statutory mechanisms for expunging convictions, guilty pleas, arrests, and other records of criminal offenses.
Examples of offenses that can be expunged include:
(1) Many property crimes such as stealing, tampering, and property damage
(2) Many traffic offenses, including some DWIs, driving while suspended, and many cases involving accidents
(3) Many offesnes involving controlled substances
(4) Most misdemeanor assaults
(6) Disorderly Conduct
If you’d like to discuss your situation in order to determine the best option for you, please call 816-287-0172 to talk to a Missouri expungement lawyer now or use the form below to schedule free consultation.
Missouri expungements Generally —RSMo 610.140
RSMo. 610.140 applies in the majority of non-driving while intoxicated expungement cases. Recent changes to RSMo. 610.140 have reduced the time you must wait before an offense can be expunged and made it possible to expunge many offenses that could not previously be expunged. Generally, you must wait three years from the end of the dispostion of your case–meaning three years from the date you paid your fine, completed your sentence, or were released from probation or parole–to petition a court for expungement of a felony and one year from the end of the disposition of your case in order to seek expungement of a misdemeanor.
Other factors the judge is to consider in deciding whether to grant a petition for expungement are:
(1) Whether you have been found guilty of another offense, not including violations of traffic regulations;
(2) Whether you have fulfilled all obligations related to the offense, such as serving a sentence, completing probation or parole, and paying any related fines or restitution;
(4) Whether you have charges pending at the time the judge is considering the expungement petition;
(5) Whether your habits and conduct demonstrate that you are not a threat to the public safety of the state; and
(6) The expungement is consistent with the public welfare and the interests of justice warrant the expungement.
It’s important to note that while 610.140 creates a presumption that you should be granted an Expungment if the above factors apply, it also grants the judge the discretion over whether to expunge your charge. That’s one of the many reasons it’s important to have a qualified attorney on your side when seeking expungement.
Many drug related charges can be expunged after one or three years, depending on whether you were charged with a felony or misdemeanor. The 2022 amendment to the Missouri Constitution also provides for automatic expungement of many marijuana-related charges and convictions. However, it is my belief that an expungement granted pursuant automatically pursuant to the Missouri constitution is meaningfully different from an expungement under RSMo. 610.140.
You can generally expunge a first offense DUI (driving under the influence), DWI (driving while intoxicated), or driving with excessive blood alcohol content under state law of local ordinance after ten years, provided you haven’t had any subsequent offenses. When evaluating a alcohol-related driving offense for expungement, it’s important to note that the applicable statute, RSMo. 610.130, has slightly different requirements than RSMo. 610.140.
Usually when filing a petition to expunge a alcohol-related driving offense, it makes sense to expunge the moving violation that led to your traffic stop so that both the DWI and the associated traffic conviction are removed from your record.
Expungment of Arrest Records — RSMo. 610.122 and 610.123
While RSMo. 610.140 includes a provision for expunging arrests that didn’t result in a prosecution, Missouri law also includes a separate statute, RSMo. 610.122, that allows for expungement of just arrest records. While these statutes apply in fewer situations than RSMo. 610.140, they can be useful for people who have exhausted their eligibility for expungement under RSMo. 610.140 or want to preserve it.
Offenses committed by Persons Under 21 or Minors
Missouri law includes several provisions that allow adults to seek expungement of some offenses committed before the defendant had reached a certain age. for example RSMo. 311.326 allows expungement of a first offense of possession of alcohol by a person under 21, once the person has turned 22 and has no subsequent alcohol-related offenses. RSMo. 610.131 provides for expungement of prostitution offenses committed by persons under 18 years old or who committed the offense under duress.
In some cases, people seeking expungment of a traffic convictions can more efficiently avoid or prevent the consequences of the conviction by having the conviction set aside, rather than expunged. Missouri Supreme Court Rules empower judges to set aside a judgement of conviction and allow defendants who have already pled guilty to an offense to withdraw their plea. Once the judge has set aside the judgement, a traffic ticket lawyer can negotiate a more favorable outcome with the prosecutor as if the original plea had never happened. There is no limit on how many offenses a person can have set aside. However, in contrast to an expungement, which requires the passage of a certian amount of time between disposition of the case and the expungement, it is imperative to seek set aside of a conviction as soon after it is entered as possible.
Which Cases Cannot Be Expunged In Missouri?
Some offenses are not eligible for expungement in Missouri, and these include dangerous felonies such as:
However, not every charge can be expunged. Offenses that cannot be expunged include:
(1) Class A felonies;
(2) Any dangerous felony as that term is defined in RSMo. 556.061;
(3) Any offense that requires registration as a sex offender;
(4) Felony offenses having death as an element of the offense;
(5) Felony Assault;
(6) Any charge of domestic violence;
(7) Felony kidnapping;
(8) numerous charges specifically excluded from the statute.
(9) Alcohol-related traffic offenses. (Though these offenses may be expungable under other Sections.)
(10) Driving offenses committed by holders of commercial drivers licenses.
(11) Some convictions for unlawful use of a weapon.
(12) Any other offense listed in the statute.
The statutes also limits the total number of lifetime expungements a person can have under RSMo. 610.140 to one felony or two misdemeanors. However, you may be able to expunge multiple charges in the same expungement petition without counting as more than one expungement.
Update: In August 2021, the legislature amended RSMo. 610.140 again, reducing the time a person must wait to have a felony expunged to three years from seven years and to one year from three years in the case of a misdemeanor. The legislature also added the language “For purposes of 18 U.S.C. Section 921(a)(33)(B)(ii)***, an order or expungement granted pursuant to this section shall be considered a complete removal of all effects of the expunged conviction” to RSMo. 610.140.8 in an obvious attempt to address the matter of whether a Missouri expungement functions as a “complete expungement” or merely a records closure, a distinction that has significant consequences, most notably with regard to restoration of federal firearms rights.