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Expungements in Missouri

Edward Alan Williams Attorney at Law April 1, 2023

UPDATED POST-Marijuana offenses:

The people of Missouri approved Amendment 3 on November 8, 2022 that affects marijuana charges and convictions. Amendment 3 sought to legalize the possession of marijuana (with exceptions) and also provided for automatic expungements of charges and convictions. Missouri Constitution, Article XIV, Section 2. Click here for the text of the Amendment -,involved%20while%20protecting%20public%20health.

A few highlights to note:

  1. Any person currently on probation for a marijuana offense shall have their sentence automatically vacated by the sentencing court. There are of course restrictions. Most notably, the offense must have been a Felony D or Felony E involving three pounds or less of marijuana;

  2. Any person no longer incarcerated or on probation shall have their offense expunged by the court. The expungement shall be ordered within 12 months of the effective date of the Amendment.

It has been our observation that many courts are slow to vacate sentences under the new law. We have been successful in having convictions vacated should the court not take action on its own, or is slow to do so.

Call us today for a free consultation: 816-421-3400.

Webster defines expungement as “to strike out” or “obliterate”. That definition somewhat describes the new law in Missouri. Recent changes that went into effect January 1, 2018 make significant changes that allows for a greater number of offenses to be expunged, but also limits the number of times a person can seek expungement.

SB 588, passed by the General Assembly in 2016, amended Missouri statute 610.140 that now reads “any person may apply to any court in which such person was charged or found guilty of any offenses, violations, or infractions for an order to expunge records of such arrest, plea, trial or conviction.” That sounds pretty good to those who have convictions on their record. However, this new law, while greatly expanding the list of offenses available to be expunged also excludes a host of others, including the one felony (bad checks) that was allowed under the prior law. In general, rather than listing what specific offenses can be expunged, as in the case of the prior law, the new law allows for expungement of any offenses, subject to a list of exclusions. Some notable exclusions are any class A felony; any dangerous felony that is defined in R.S. Mo 556.061; any offense that requires registration as a sex offender; felony assault, felony or misdemeanor domestic assault; and a laundry list of other offenses, including “intoxication related traffic or boating offense as defined in section 577.001” (which basically limits DUI expungements to first time offenders so long as another person was not injured or killed).

The new law also shortens the time frame before a person may seek expungement of an offense. For felonies, the waiting period is reduced from twenty years down to seven, which has been further reduced to three.. For misdemeanors, the waiting period is reduced from ten years down to three, which has been further reduced to one. As in the case with the prior law, a person seeking expungement cannot be currently incarcerated or on probation or parole for the offense. A person must also have not been found guilty of any other misdemeanor or felony (excluding traffic violations) during the time period specified for the underlying offense. The new law also requires that no new or pending charges be against the person seeking expungement.

Getting back to the definition above, many people think that if an offense is expunged from their record, that it is completely erased from all records. Under the new law, this perception is simply not so. If an offense is expunged, the court issues an order directing that person’s records to be closedrather than destroyed, as was the case under the old law. In effect what this means is that, while an offense will no longer be available to the public, it will still be available to criminal justice agencies (i.e. police) and to a number of entities for use in screening out job applicants for certain positions. Of note, the new law specifically states that a person who has had an offense expunged may answer “no” to an inquiry from an employer, or prospective employer, as to whether that person has ever been convicted of a crime. That person must, however, answer “yes” to an inquiry if the employer, or prospective employer, is required to exclude applicants with certain criminal convictions.

The bottom line is that this new law offers a chance for persons convicted of certain crimes to move on with their lives and not be hounded by past mistakes. As Governor Nixon, who signed the law, said “Missourians who have paid their debt to society and become law-abiding citizens deserve a chance to get a job and support their families.”

Of course, a petition must be filed with the court and the process can be lengthy and should only be done with the assistance of a qualified attorney, but the expungement process and any associated cost would certainly be worth it to many with convictions who are seeking employment or other opportunities in the state of Missouri