How to Get a Felony Expunged in Missouri
Having a felony conviction on your record can have a significant impact on your life. It can limit your employment opportunities, housing options, and even your ability to obtain credit. However, in the state of Missouri, there is a legal process known as expungement that allows individuals to have certain criminal records sealed or erased. This article will guide you through the steps to get a felony expunged in Missouri and answer frequently asked questions about the process.
Understanding Expungement in Missouri:
Expungement is the legal process of sealing or erasing criminal records, making them unavailable to the public. In Missouri, individuals with certain felony convictions may be eligible for expungement if they meet specific criteria set by the law.
Eligibility for Expungement:
To be eligible for felony expungement in Missouri, you must meet the following criteria:
1. Completion of Sentence: You must have completed all aspects of your sentence, including probation, parole, or any other court-imposed conditions.
2. Waiting Period: There is a waiting period before you can apply for expungement. For most felony offenses, you must wait seven years after the completion of your sentence. However, certain non-violent felony offenses have a waiting period of three years.
3. No New Convictions: During the waiting period, you must not have been convicted of any new offenses. A subsequent conviction will disqualify you from seeking expungement.
4. Offense Eligibility: Not all felony offenses are eligible for expungement. Violent offenses, sex offenses, and certain other serious crimes cannot be expunged under Missouri law.
Steps to Get a Felony Expunged in Missouri:
1. Obtain Your Criminal Record: Contact the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Criminal Records Division to request a copy of your criminal record. This record will help you determine if you meet the eligibility criteria for expungement.
2. Consult an Attorney: It is highly recommended to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney who specializes in expungement cases. They will guide you through the process, ensure your eligibility, and handle the legal aspects of your expungement petition.
3. Petition for Expungement: Your attorney will help you prepare a petition for expungement. This petition should include details about your conviction, the completion of your sentence, and any other relevant information. It must be filed with the court in the jurisdiction where you were convicted.
4. Serve the Prosecutor: After filing the petition, you must serve a copy to the prosecutor’s office that handled your original case. They will have an opportunity to review your petition and may object to the expungement.
5. Expungement Hearing: If the prosecutor does not object, the court will schedule a hearing to review your petition. During this hearing, you or your attorney must present evidence that demonstrates your eligibility for expungement and highlights your rehabilitation efforts.
6. Court Decision: After reviewing the evidence and hearing arguments from both sides, the court will make a decision on your expungement petition. If approved, your criminal records will be sealed or erased, making them inaccessible to the public.
FAQs about Felony Expungement in Missouri:
Q: Can I expunge multiple felony convictions in Missouri?
A: Yes, you may be able to expunge multiple felony convictions as long as they meet the eligibility criteria and are filed separately.
Q: Can I expunge a felony conviction that occurred in another state?
A: No, only offenses committed in the state of Missouri are eligible for expungement under Missouri law.
Q: Will an expunged felony conviction appear on a background check?
A: In most cases, an expunged felony conviction should not appear on a background check conducted by private employers. However, law enforcement agencies and certain government entities may still have access to sealed records.
Q: How long does the expungement process take?
A: The expungement process can vary depending on the complexity of your case and the court’s schedule. It may take several months to over a year to complete.
Q: Can I apply for expungement if I have a felony conviction from another state but currently reside in Missouri?
A: Yes, if you live in Missouri but have a felony conviction from another state, you may be eligible for expungement under Missouri law. However, you should consult an attorney to understand the specifics of your situation.
Getting a felony expunged in Missouri can offer a fresh start and open up new opportunities for individuals who have made mistakes in their past. By understanding the eligibility criteria, following the necessary steps, and seeking professional legal guidance, you can navigate the expungement process successfully. Remember to consult an experienced attorney who can provide personalized advice and guide you through the intricacies of the law to increase your chances of a successful expungement.