On January 1, Missourians found it easier to have past criminal arrests and convictions stripped from their records.
Known as Senate Bill 588, the changes to state law allow non-chronic offenders to erase their records and their negative consequences.
Billed by many as a "second chance law," it applies to 1,900 separate misdemeanor and felony crimes. Felonies can now be sealed seven years after the completion of a sentence. Misdemeanors and local offenses become eligible for expungement three years after conviction.
Consider that the previous timeline for expungement was 30 years for felonies, and 10 years for misdemeanors.
It's a brand new day for those who have been suffering in the wake of criminal convictions. Expungement means that if you are asked in a job interview or college application "Have you ever been convicted of a crime in Missouri?" - you can legally say "No."
Anyone who has a less than perfect criminal r4ecord will tell you that the =damage to their reputations and opportunities continue long after penalties have been paid.
These days criminal records are more easily accessed because of the Internet. The new law allows Missourians to step into the future without that conviction sitting on their shoulders. It will be a special boon to those convicted of marijuana and other drug crimes - of whom there are thousands - whose lives have been stunted by conviction.
The law does not allow expungement for just any crime. Crimes considered very serious are explicitly excluded from the law: