New Statute Allows for Expungement of Certain Criminal Records
A new Missouri expungement statute went into effect on January 1, 2018.
The statute is much broader than the previous expungement statute.
A person’s ability to expunge means to erase or completely remove a felony or misdemeanor conviction from a criminal record.
The new statute does not mean that all crimes can be expunged, but it has broaden the types possible for expungement.
There are felonies or misdemeanors that are listed for exclusion by the statute, or a personal may be disqualified for other reasons.
Convictions excluded from expungement are
- Class A felony offenses
- dangerous felonies as defined in section 556.061 of Missouri statues
- any offense that requires registration as a sex offender
- any felony where death is an element of the offense
- any felony offense of assault
- any misdemeanor or felony of domestic assault
- felony offense of kidnapping and a number of other offenses that fall broadly under the category of crimes against persons
- any intoxication-related offenses, except certain first time DWI offenders
- anyone who violated a law regulating operation of a motor vehicle with a commercial driver’s license
- other exceptions
Expungement Law in Missouri
In order for a person to receive expungement there are requirements that must be met.
First, there is a $250 application fee.
This is waived if the person seeking expungement is matches the qualifications as a poor person.
The petition for expungement must be filed in the Missouri court where the person was charged or found guilty, and all offenses must be listed that the person wishes to have expunged.
All courts, municipal prosecuting attorneys, state repositories of criminal records, and law enforcement agencies that are believed to possess records for any items someone seeks to have expunged must be listed also.
Even with the broadened statute, there is an implied required waiting period.
In the case of a felony, anyone seeking expungement must wait 7 years.
And in the case of a misdemeanor, the waiting period is 3 years.
However, in some cases it could happen sooner.
In order to even qualify for expungement, the person must not have been found guilty of any other misdemeanor or felony during the 3 or 7 year wait period.
There can’t be any pending charges against them, and their habits and conduct must demonstrate that they are not a threat to public safety.
During a person’s lifetime they may expunge up to 2 misdemeanors or 1 felony.
- 30 days to file any objections to a petition for expungement
- within 60 days for a court to hold a hearing following the objection
- 30 days after filing if there is no objection to the petition
There are now more than 1,900 eligible offenses, compared to the previous 13 and 20 year wait time.
Convictions fall into 2 categories, alcohol-related driving offenses and all other offenses.
If the offense involves alcohol related driving there are specifications that must be met such as
- 10 elapsed since the the offense was convicted
- the conviction was for an ordinance violation or misdemeanor
- it was the defendant’s first intoxication-related offense
- the conviction was not for driving a commercial motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol
- other requirements
Senate Bill 588
The statute change is the result of Senate Bill 588 and was signed by former Governor Jay Nixon in July 2016.
It was sponsored by Senator Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, and is viewed by many as giving people a second chance.
It makes it easier for non-chronic offenders to erase there record, which makes an enormous difference in their lives.
A person who committed a misdemeanor in their early 20s often still pays the consequences of their conviction for years after, especially since more people have access to criminal records through the internet.
Why does it matter?
A person who has no other criminal record after a successful petition will now be able to answer “no” to any questions regarding if they have been convicted of a crime, unless an employer is required by law to exclude certain applicants.
So for many people this year, the start of 2018 was definitely an opportunity to hit the refresh button.
Additional Changes to Missouri Law
2018 has already been a big year for Missouri law.
Missouri Minimum Wage
In 2017, we saw an increase to St. Louis minimum wage to $10. The St. Louis increase was controversial though, because it was higher than the Missouri minimum wage.
As of January 1, Missouri minimum wage is $7.85.
It applies to all Missouri businesses except retail and service businesses with less than $500,000 in gross sales.
Missouri Human Rights Act
There have been major changes to Missouri Human Rights such as
- Changes the burden of proof from the contributing factor standard to motivating factor
- Imposes caps on damages for a prevailing plaintiff based on the size of the employer
- Removes supervisors and others from individual liability
- Requires Missouri courts to heavily rely on the judicial interpretations of federal anti-discrimination laws
- more changes here
Missouri Right to Work Law
In early 2017, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens signed into law Missouri’s right-to-work legislation, and it was slated to take effect on August 28, 2017.
The law banned mandatory union dues, but the Missouri AFL-CIO petitioned for a referendum.
The law was suspended and is set for a public vote in November 2018.