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How Missouri limits expungement requests

On Behalf of | Mar 22, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Criminal records serve as a means of protecting the public and also as a deterrent to criminal activity. Anyone who pleads guilty to an offense or gets convicted of a crime at a criminal trial has a state record of that conviction. They must disclose that record in some scenarios, and even if they do not, other parties can find state records of their prior offense.

For some people, the prospect of having a single mistake follow them for life is enough to prevent them from impulsively breaking the law. Sadly, too many people only realize the impact a conviction can have after they go to court. Criminal records have long limited access to employment opportunities and other chances for self-improvement.

Thankfully, state lawmakers did move to revisit expungement rules recently. Expungement went from very difficult to obtain to more widely available. Still, there are certain restrictions that apply to those seeking expungement. How does the state limit expungement or record ceiling requests?

With timing requirements

People who plead guilty or get convicted of criminal offenses cannot immediately expunge the record of their convictions. Instead, they must wait a certain amount of time before they petition the courts to seal the record of the prior offense. Someone convicted of a misdemeanor typically needs to wait at least one year after fulfilling all the terms imposed in their sentence. Someone convicted of a felony has to wait at least three years before they can expunge the record of their prior conviction.

With limits based on the type of charges

Allowing people to expunge their records prevents a record itself from becoming an unfair form of punishment. However, criminal records are also about the protection of the public, and sometimes expunging someone’s record might put the public at risk. Even the expanded rules that apply to misdemeanor and felony offenses in some cases do not apply to certain offenses. Anyone convicted of a violate crime, like felony assault, may not qualify. Domestic violence charges, sex offenses, kidnapping and offenses involving someone’s death are all generally ineligible for expungement.

Expungement is still a process that is often defined by red tape and complications. Obtaining the right support can increase someone’s chances of expunging a criminal record that has limited their opportunities. Ultimately, those who have learned from prior mistakes may want to make use of changes to the law that make expungement more readily available.