I get phone calls all the time from people trying to hire me to have their criminal records expunged. Until now, I have always had to give the sad news that–with the exception of some ten-year-old DWI convictions– “They don’t do that here in Missouri.” With the signing of HB 1647 last Tuesday, Missouri’s criminal expungement laws have been expanded.
The new law–chiefly meant to restore the right to possess firearms–goes into effect on August 28, 2012 and allows for the expungement of some felony and misdemeanor criminal records. The felonies must be over twenty years old and misdemeanors ten years old with no other criminal offenses (excluding traffic) committed during those time periods. Here is a rough list of crimes which may be expunged:
Felonies and Misdemeanors:
- Passing a bad check
- Fraudulently stopping payment of an instrument
- fraudulent use of a credit device or debit device
- Negligent setting of a fire
- Tampering in the second degree (joyriding among other things)
- Property damage
- Peace disturbance
- Drunkeness/Drinking in schools, churches and courthouses
Getting convictions expunged requires the filing of a petition in the court in which the person was found guilty. The petition must name as defendants every state agency that may possess the conviction records. On top of filing and service fees, the new law tacks on an extra $100 filing fee. There must be a court hearing and a finding that the petitioner meets every criteria, including full payment of any restitution ordered; and that the “circumstances and behavior of the petitioner warrant the expungement;” and that the expungement is “consistent with the public welfare.”
Although a person is not required to hire a lawyer to obtain an expungement, most people will want an attorney to file the lawsuit and conduct an evidenciary hearing. Despite the time and cost, many people may find a criminal expungement worth pursuing.