What is Expungement?
Generally, expungement deletes your criminal record and restores you to the status you had before the offense, and the state destroys the record.
In Missouri, there are two types of expungement. One type of expungement deletes your criminal record and the other type has a "closure" effect on a criminal record. Closure is similar to the sealing process in many other states. If a record is closed, it is hidden from public view. Law enforcement agencies, judges, and authorized employers may be able to see a closed record.
Who is Eligible for Expungement?
In general, you are eligible to have a record expunged for property and drug crimes. You are generally not eligible to have your record expunged for crimes against a person such as violent or sex crimes.
There are different eligibility requirements for the two types of expungement (destroyed or closed):
- Destroyed: You are eligible to get the record of an arrest destroyed if:
- charges were dismissed,
- you were found not guilty,
- the charges were nolle prossed, or
- the arrest was for a motor-vehicle offense, you were not intoxicated, and you do not hold a commercial-driver's license.
- Closed: You are eligible to get the record of an arrest, plea, trial, or conviction closed. You are not eligible to get your record closed for serious felonies, violent crimes, sex crimes, intoxication-related crimes, motor-vehicle violations if you hold a commercial-driver's license, and ordinance violations if equivalent to felonies in Missouri.
Finally, to be eligible for both types of expungement, all of the following must be true:
- You have no other convictions, other than traffic violations.
- You do not have any charges pending against you.
- You have paid all fines and restitution.
- You are not a threat to public safety.
- Expungement of your record is consistent with "the public welfare and the interests of justice."
You can expunge one felony and two misdemeanors in your lifetime.
What Effect Does Expungement Have?
Once a Missouri court grants an expungement, the court orders all state agencies including law enforcement and courts to expunge their records. Depending on the type of expungement, the record is either destroyed or closed and you may be able to legally deny that you were arrested or convicted.
When Can I Apply for Expungement?
You can expunge one felony and two misdemeanors in your lifetime. You can apply for expungement of a conviction only after you have completed your sentence. Depending on your specific record and the process timeline, different waiting periods will apply. To determine when to apply, you must count from the most recent date of either the date of conviction, completion of sentence, completion of probation or parole, or final payment of restitution.
Here is when you can apply for expungement:
- If your arrest or conviction is for a misdemeanor, you must wait three years.
- If your arrest or conviction is for a felony, you must wait seven years.
- If your petition for expungement is denied because you are not eligible or you gave false information, you must wait one year after filing the original petition to file it again.
- If your arrest or conviction is for a first-time DWI (driving or boating), you must wait 10 years.
How Do I Apply for Expungement?
Here's are the six steps to apply for expungement:
- Find the necessary form. Several forms are available for use in expungement, closure, and correction of records. Choose the one that applies to your record. To access the various forms, visit the Missouri Courts Judicial Branch of Government website here: Missouri Court System - Petition for Expungement forms.
- Complete the correct form.
- Make copies of all documents for your own reference.
- File the form and any supporting documents with the clerk of the county court where you were charged.
- Pay the fee, if one applies. Some petitions are free, while others may require a fee up to $250. You must pay this fee when you file your petition.
If you cannot pay the $250 fee, you have the right to have the fee waived. To access a fee waiver form, visit the Missouri Courts Judicial Branch of Government website here: Motion and Affidavit in Support of Request to Proceed as a Poor Person. File this petition with the clerk. The judge will decide if you qualify for a fee waiver.
- Go to the hearing on your petition.
After you file your petition at the court, the state has 30 days to object. If the state objects, the court will schedule a hearing within 60 days of the objection being filed. If the state does not object, the court will schedule a hearing within 30 days after you filed.
More Information About Expungement