Lawsuits halt student debt relief program – Student loan payment pause extended
New applications for student loan debt relief are no longer being accepted because of lawsuits challenging the debt cancellation program. Up-to-date information about the status of the program is available from the U.S. Department of Education: Debt Relief | Application | Federal Student Aid.
The Department of Education announced the debt cancellation program in August 2022, and applications became available in October 2022. The National Consumer Law Center provides eligibility information about the program at the following link: One-Time Student Debt Cancellation in 2022-2023 – Student Loan Borrowers Assistance (studentloanborrowerassistance.org).
Student loan payments and interest for eligible federal student loans have been paused in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pause was scheduled to be lifted, with payments to resume, on December 31, 2022. In response to the litigation about student debt cancellation, the pause has been extended until the lawsuits regarding student debt cancellation are resolved or the U.S. Department of Education is able to go forward with debt cancellation despite the dispute.
More information about the status of the payment pause can be found at the following link: COVID-19 Emergency Relief and Federal Student Aid | Federal Student Aid. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers advice and information for people preparing to resume loan payments after the pause: Student loans | Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (consumerfinance.gov)
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/
No petition required for most ‘Amendment 3’ marijuana expungements
Missouri voters approved “Amendment 3” in the recent election to legalize recreational marijuana. The amendment to Article XIV of the Missouri Constitution takes effect on December 8, 2022. The amendment legalizes possession and use of marijuana for those 21 and older and establishes a licensing scheme for legal production and sale.
The new law requires the courts to expunge eligible marijuana offenses without requiring a petition. Under the constitutional amendment, Missouri’s circuit courts must order expungement of all misdemeanor marijuana offenses in cases where the person has completed any sentence by the court by no later than June 8, 2023. Missouri courts must order expungement of all eligible felony marijuana offenses, where the sentence is complete, by no later than December 8, 2023.
Offenses that involve distribution to a minor, offenses involving violence, and offenses for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana are excluded.
People who are currently incarcerated on marijuana offenses can petition for expungement. The amendment provides that no fees can be charged for those petitions and requires the public defender’s office to create a form people can use to ask for expungement without representation from an attorney.
Mid-Missouri Legal Services provides representation to eligible people seeking expungement. While MMLS is not able to represent people who are currently incarcerated, MMLS can provide advice about the automatic expungement process under Amendment 3. Expungements under the new law may make it easier for people to seek expungement of other offenses on their records.
Mid-Missouri Legal Services 2023 Private Attorney Involvement (PAI) Plan
“Mid-Missouri Legal Services (MMLS) delivers legal services to eleven (11) counties in central Missouri. Due to the unique challenges of serving a primarily rural area, MMLS has developed a plan to use volunteers in a variety of ways to expand the reach and effectiveness of the program. MMLS takes into consideration the input from segments of the client community, private attorneys, and bar associations in the development of its annual Private Attorney Involvement (PAI) Plan. Any responses to MMLS’s Proposed 2023 Private Attorney Involvement Plan can be submitted to email@example.com.” You can view the 2023 MMLS PAI Plan at this link: MMLS Proposed 2023 PAI Plan
To view Missouri court and other resource updates, click on the following link: Covid-19. You can view the latest develops concerning Covid-19 by viewing the U.S. Government Covid-19 site located at: USA.Gov. If you click on the links above you will be leaving this website.