Missouri law will change time requirements for some offenders to expunge records

Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 8:00 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A new Missouri law will make it easier for some people to get their criminal records cleared. Senate Bill 61 goes into effect on August 28.

Attorney Scott Pierson says about 1,900 offenses are eligible for expungement.

“None of us want to be judged by the worst moments in our life and the expungement process is the process of going back before an arrest and allowing the rest of your life to define who you are,” Pierson says.

However, the big change in the law is the timeframe to petition for it. A misdemeanor will be eligible one year after the case is decided.

The bill reads:

Under current law, in order to file a petition, it must be at least seven years if the offense is a felony or at least three years if the offense is a misdemeanor from the date the petitioner completed any authorized disposition. This act changes the time limitations to three years if the offense is a felony and one year if the offense is a misdemeanor.

“The ability to say you’re no longer a convicted felon opens up so many specific doors for an individual and so that’s what this is about,” Pierson says.

Pierson says drug offenses are the most common ones people want cleared.

“As long as you’re not Pablo Escobar and you have an ‘A’ felony drug offense, that’s gonna be eligible for expungement,” Pierson says. “Anything from possession of marijuana offense less than 10 grams all the way up to a ‘B’ felony trafficking offense.”

Another common one is property crimes, like stealing and tampering with a vehicle. However, if you have multiple offenses on your record, you may not be eligible. There are also crimes that you can’t get taken off your record.

“Those where there’s bodily injury, so assault cases,” Pierson says. “The only type of assault case that will be eligible for expungement is what’s called common assault. A bar fight kind of situation.”

Katherine Trombetta with The Missouri Job Center says having a criminal record can often be a barrier to entering the workforce.

“Filling out that application or going to a job interview, to be able to talk about that,” Trombetta says. “They think it’s going to be the nail in their coffin if you will as far as getting a job.”

This update to the law will change that, preventing people from having to disclose their past legal issues.

“They can go and look for jobs or look for higher paying jobs,” Trombetta says. “Maybe they’re at a lower level type of unemployment so this may encourage them to get a higher paying job.”

The Springfield Metropolitan Bar and Pierson are hosting a one-hour webinar on August 26 from 6 pm. - 7 p.m. You can sign up for that here.

Pierson says they also offer free legal assistance for low-income applicants.

“Those are the people who probably, honestly, need it the most so they can get employment, so they can get rent and all those types of things,” Pierson says. “It takes away cost barriers going forward for them.”

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