Arrest often has a long lasting affect on your life, even if the charges were dropped. Expungement or record sealing offers a fresh start.
Expungement or Record Sealing/Closure
Expungement and record sealing are two methods in which you can clear your criminal record. The terms are often used interchangeably, but expungement means the offense is removed as if it never happened. Record sealing, or closure, as stated in Missouri law, prevents public access to the record.
Eligibility for Missouri Expungement
In Missouri, criminal arrest records, among other law enforcement records like complaints, suspected crimes and accidents, are generally considered open, as of the Sunshine Law Missouri statute 610.200. This state does not usually allow criminal expungements, particularly for serious or violent felonies. For the most part, records cannot be expunged excluding some recent exceptions:
- Trespassing in the first degree, known as the Purple Paint Law
- Passing a bad check
- Disturbing the peace misdemeanors
- Negligent burning or explosion
- Tampering with the property of another
- Drunkenness or drinking in certain places
- Stopping payment on a check fraudulently, fraudulent use of credit or debit instrument
- Misdemeanor prostitution
- A DUI older than 10 years or
- A juvenile alcohol related offense
Note: If your arrest was based on false information, you may be eligible for an expungement.
Eligibility for Closure
If your misdemeanor or violation resulted in dismissed, dropped or revised charges, you are eligible for record closure. If you were found not guilty, your arrest can be closed. If your sentence was suspended, you may also be eligible for record closure. Automatic closure of records should occur in cases where you are found not guilty by reason of mental illness or defect. You must have completed all conditions such as parole or sentence.
Ineligibility from Expungement
There are certain situations that preclude you from petitioning for record closure:
- If an alcohol related driving offense correlated to a motorist with a commercial license or if the person held prior convictions of such offense
- You have a prior felony conviction
- Sexual offense conviction
- Registered sex offenders
- You have been convicted of other violation offenses and misdemeanors five years prior to the petition for expungement
- You have not sought prior expungement attempts since conviction
Also, there may not be any pending proceedings existing against you in order to be eligible.
To have records restricted, you will need to get and fill out the petition for expungement form, pay the $100 surcharge and file the petition in the court where the offense was committed. The fee is deposited in the general revenue fund.
You must provide personal information like your full name, sex, race, address, driver's license number, birthday, Social Security number, and arrest and case details. The arresting agency and the court in the county where you were arrested will have records of any applicable case details.
Your petition will either be granted and expungement or closure proceedings completed, or the request will be denied.
Need a Missouri Lawyer for Expungement?
Expungement may be completed without an attorney, but working with an attorney will ensure you are well represented and understand the law. It should be noted that anything missing in the petition for expungement could result in the loss of surcharge fee and a denial of petition.
All laws change often. The legal information in this article is for informational purposes. Seek advice from a Missouri expungement lawyer if you have questions about record closure or expungement.