Changes in the Missouri Expungement Law
Significant changes to Missouri law have made more people eligible to have a criminal record closed. The legislature has expanded the types of offenses eligible for expungement and shortened the “waiting period” before a person may ask a court to close records.
In Missouri, expungement results in closing arrest and conviction records, rather than erasing or destroying the records. Most drug offenses became eligible for expungement in 2018. Misdemeanor and felony stealing charges, often charged in shoplifting cases, were made eligible for expungement in August 2019.
The most serious crimes, such as Class A felonies, dangerous felonies and offenses requiring registration as a sex offender, remain ineligible for expungement.
While Missouri law formerly required a waiting period of seven years to expunge a felony and three years to expunge a misdemeanor, those waiting periods were shortened in August 2021 to three years and one year, respectively. The waiting period starts once all court obligations, such as probation and fines, are satisfied.
To seek expungement, a petitioner must have avoided any additional convictions during the applicable waiting period before filing a petition. In addition, someone seeking expungement must have no pending criminal charges.
Eligibility for expungement must be determined on a case-by-case basis. Anyone interested in expungement may benefit from seeking advice from an attorney. Expungement petitions must be filed in the county where the case was charged or prosecuted. Mid-Missouri Legal Services represents low-income clients seeking expungement in 11 counties in Central Missouri.
More information about expungement is available from the Missouri Bar: https://missourilawyershelp.org/legal-topics/understanding-missouris-new-expungement-law/
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