Expungements

Expungements

Black's Law Dictionary Definition

To destroy; blot out; obliterate; erase; efface designedly; strike out wholly. The act of physically destroying information-including criminal records-in files, computers, or other depositories.

See Also: DWI

Expungements are when the records fo your previous problems with the law are "erased". This is not considered a pardon. A Pardon does not erase the past records, it just makes those past records unusable in the court of law. Expungements are not common in every state.

Missouri has two forms of expungement, one generally applicable to criminal cases and a unique one for the crime of being a minor in possession of alcohol.

Ordinary expungement

If certain requirements are met, Missouri law allows a person to have an arrest record expunged, which the law of Missouri defines as the process of legally destroying, obliterating or striking out records or information in files, computers and other depositories relating to criminal charges.

A person is eligible for expungement in Missouri if the arrest was based on false information and the following conditions exist.

  1. There is no probable cause to believe the person committed the offense;
  2. No charges will be pursued as a result of the arrest;
  3. The person has no prior or subsequent misdemeanor or felony convictions;
  4. The person did not receive a suspended imposition of sentence for the offense; and
  5. No civil action is pending relating to the arrest or records sought to be expunged.

If a person qualifies, in order to have the records expunged, they must file a verified petition for expungement in the civil division of the Circuit Court in the county of the arrest. The court sets a hearing on the matter no sooner than thirty days after the petition was filed. If the court finds that the petitioner is entitled to expungement of any record, it will enter an order directing expungement.

Records expunged under this provision still may be opened to law enforcement if the person is charged with a subsequent offense or if any of the requirements of expungement no longer are met.

Minor in possession of alcohol

In 2005, the Missouri General Assembly enacted a special new section in the state's Liquor Control Law allowing for the complete and total expungement for the offense of being a minor in possession of alcohol. Unlike ordinary expungement, the MIP expungement exists with the explicit legislative mandate that the effect of an order of expungement under it "shall be to restore such person to the status occupied prior to such arrest, plea or conviction, as if such event had never happened."

After not less than one year since the offense was disposed of, or upon reaching the age of twenty-one, whichever occurs first, a person who pleaded guilty to or was found guilty of the crime of minor in possession of alcohol for the first time, and who since such conviction has not been convicted of any other alcohol-related offense, may apply to the civil division of the circuit court of the county in which the person was sentenced for an order to expunge all official records of the arrest, plea, trial and conviction.

The person also must meet the following requirements:

  1. The person has not been convicted of any other alcohol-related offense at the time of the application for expungement; and
  2. The person has had no other contacts with law enforcement (i.e. arrest, charge) which were alcohol-related (such as for drunk driving or violation of the terms of a liquor license).

If a person has had an MIP record expunged this way, the law states they cannot "be held thereafter under any provision of any law to be guilty of perjury or otherwise giving a false statement by reason of failure to recite or acknowledge such arrest, plea, trial, conviction or expungement in response to any inquiry made for any purpose whatsoever.

A person is only entitled to one MIP expungement under this special provision."

The material provided is intended for informational purpose only. It is not to be considered legal advice and not to be construed as legal representation.