Expunging Criminal records in Missouri

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 

 Misdemeanors only:

  • Negligent setting of a fire
  • Tampering in the second degree (joyriding among other things)
  • Property damage
  • Trespass
  • Gambling
  • 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.

Can I get a ten year old Missouri DWI erased from my record?

expungeIt’s called an expungement, and in Missouri, any qualified person can get one (but only one).

If you have a single DWI or other misdemeanor alcohol related driving offense that is ten years old, the law provides a way for most people to make that mistake disappear forever. The effect of an expungement order is to restore you to your status prior to your DWI arrest, plea or conviction–as if such event had never taken place.

Expungement requires filing a petition with the court in which you originally pled guilty or were convicted. After a criminal background check, you must prove–-in a hearing–that you have not been convicted of any alcohol-related driving offense in the prior ten years and have have no alcohol-related enforcement contacts (like a license revocation) during the preceding ten years, nor have any alcohol-related driving charges or alcohol-related enforcement actions pending. The court will then order expungement of all official records of your arrest, plea, trial, conviction and related administrative actions.

In addition to the expungement of the records, you cannot later be found guilty of perjury or otherwise giving a false statement for failure to admit to the expunged arrest, plea, trial or conviction (no matter who asks or why).