If certain requirements are met, Missouri law allows a person to have an arrest or criminal record expunged, which the law of Missouri defines as the process of legally destroying, obliterating or striking out records or information in files, computers and other depositories relating to criminal charges.
An expungement will seal your record but will not be completely destroyed. Law enforcement may still be able to see the arrest or conviction if they performed a background check. You must disclose convictions in certain situations.
According to Costhelper.com, attorney fees to handle expungement start between $400 – $1,000, but can go as high as $4,000 not including the expungement surcharge or court filing fees.
Petition for Expungement of Arrest Records (Note: This form should not be used to ask for an expungement under section 610.130, RSMo.) – Missouri Revised Statutes RSMO 610.122 to 610.126, deals with the expungement of arrest records.
A person is eligible for expungement in Missouri if the arrest was based on false information and the following conditions exist:
- There is no probable cause to believe the person committed the offense;
- No charges will be pursued as a result of the arrest;
- The person has no prior or subsequent misdemeanor or felony convictions;
- The person did not receive a suspended imposition of sentence for the offense; and
- No civil action is pending relating to the arrest or records sought to be expunged.
If a person qualifies, in order to have the records expunged, they must file a verified petition for expungement in the civil division of the Circuit Court in the county of the arrest. The court sets a hearing on the matter no sooner than thirty days after the petition was filed. If the court finds that the petitioner is entitled to expungement of any record, it will enter an order directing expungement.
Records expunged under this provision still may be opened to law enforcement if the person is charged with a subsequent offense or if any of the requirements of expungement no longer are met.
Petition for Expungement of Criminal Records (Note: This form should not be used to ask for an expungement under section 610.130, RSMo.) – Missouri Revised Statutes RSMO 610.130 to 610.145, deals with the expungement of arrest records.
- RSMO 610.130 addresses expungement of alcohol-related driving offenses.
- RSMO 610.131 deals with expungement when under 18 years old at the time of the offense.
- RSMO 610.140 allows people convicted of certain crimes to have their records expunged resulting in the records being sealed and unavailable through record checks.
- RSMO 610.145 provides for expungement of records because of stolen or mistaken identity.
The Missouri Expungement Law Senate Bill 588
Prior to January 1, 2018, there were only a handful of offenses that you could get expunged from your record. The Missouri Expungement Law was changed by Senate Bill 588 which created a process where around 1,900 eligible offenses can be sealed.
The surcharge to request expungement increased from $100 to $250. An additional filing fee, often $100 -$175, may also be charged. A judge may waive the surcharge and filing fee if you are found indigent and unable to pay the cost. RSMO 514.040 sets forth the in forma pauperis (poor person) procedure. Also, see Civil Rule 77.03. The OSCA (Office of State Courts Administration) approved the Motion and Affidavit in Support of Request to Proceed as a Poor Person form. You should file the poor person form with your expungement petition if you cannot afford the cost.
Some individuals with misdemeanor convictions can file petitions after three years and those with felonies, after seven years. That waiting time used to be 10 and 20 years respectively. After a successful petition, those with no other criminal record will be able to honestly answer “no” to inquiries about whether they have a criminal record (Unless a specific employer is required by law to exclude certain applicants).
Examples of criminal offenses that do not qualify for expungement are:
- All Class A Felonies
- Any misdemeanor or felony involving domestic abuse
- Any dangerous felony
- Any crime requiring registration as a sex offender
- Any criminal offense where death is an element
- Any felony offense of assault; misdemeanor or felony offense of domestic assault; or felony offense of kidnapping
(See Missouri Revised Statutes § 610.140 for the full list of disqualifying offenses.)
For individuals who are eligible to start their petition process, they have to file them in the court where they were charged or found guilty of the crime (offenses, violations, infractions). The petition must include all names of municipal prosecuting attorneys, law enforcement agencies, courts, state repositories of criminal records – basically any entity that might possess records of the items they wish to have expunged. They must also list every offense they wish to have expunged.
The state will then have 30-days to file objections to the petition you have filed. If there is an objection the court must hold a hearing within 60-days, or 30-days if there is no objection. While the 3 and 7-year waiting period has been stated, the bill does not explicitly demand this, so there might be avenues open for an earlier expungement date. The individual will also have to show the court that their habits and personal conduct, since their release make them a good candidate for expungement. This is the key element to the success of their petition.
The petition process can take as little as 120-days resulting in a removal of their criminal record from potential landlords, employers, and financial institution immediately.
There are some exceptions to not having to disclose arrests or convictions. A person granted an expungement shall disclose any expunged offense, violation, or infraction when the disclosure of such information is necessary to complete any application for:
- A license, certificate, or permit issued by the state of Missouri to practice such individual's profession;
- Any license issued under chapter 313 or permit issued under chapter 571;
- Paid or unpaid employment with an entity licensed under chapter 313, any state-operated lottery, or any emergency services provider, including any law enforcement agency;
- Employment with any federally insured bank or savings institution or credit union or an affiliate of such institution or credit union for the purposes of compliance with 12 U.S.C. Section 1829 and U.S.C Section 1785;
- Employment with any entity engaged in the business of insurance or any insurer for the purpose of complying with 18 U.S.C. Section 1033, 18 U.S.C. Section 1034, or other similar law which requires an employer engaged in the business of insurance to exclude applicants with certain criminal convictions from employment; or
- Employment with any employer that is required to exclude applicants with certain criminal convictions from employment due to federal or state law, including corresponding rules and regulations.
Minor in possession of alcohol
In 2005, the Missouri General Assembly enacted a special new section in the state's Liquor Control Law allowing for the complete and total expungement for the offense of being a minor in possession of alcohol (RSMo 311.326). Unlike ordinary expungement, the MIP expungement exists with the explicit legislative mandate that the effect of an order of expungement under it "shall be to restore such person to the status occupied prior to such arrest, plea or conviction, as if such event had never happened."
After not less than one year since the offense was disposed of, or upon reaching the age of twenty-one, whichever occurs first, a person who pleaded guilty to or was found guilty of the crime of minor in possession of alcohol for the first time, and who since such conviction has not been convicted of any other alcohol-related offense, may apply to the civil division of the circuit court of the county in which the person was sentenced for an order to expunge all official records of the arrest, plea, trial, and conviction.
The person also must meet the following requirements:
- At least 1 year has passed since you reached the age of 21.
- The person has not been convicted of any other alcohol-related offense at the time of the application for expungement.
- The person has had no other contacts with law enforcement (i.e. arrest, charge) which were alcohol-related (such as for drunk driving or violation of the terms of a liquor license).
- You did not have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) when you received the MIP ticket.
- You were not driving a commercial motor vehicle when you received the MIP ticket.
If a person has had a MIP record expunged this way, the law states they cannot "be held thereafter under any provision of any law to be guilty of perjury or otherwise giving a false statement by reason of failure to recite or acknowledge such arrest, plea, trial, conviction or expungement in response to any inquiry made for any purpose whatsoever." A person is only entitled to one MIP expungement under this special provision.