How to Get Your Record Expunged in Missouri
Having a criminal record can have serious consequences on your personal and professional life. It can limit your job prospects, housing options, and even affect your ability to obtain loans or credit. Fortunately, Missouri law allows individuals to have certain criminal records expunged or sealed, providing them with a fresh start. In this article, we will guide you through the process of getting your record expunged in Missouri.
What is expungement?
Expungement is a legal process that allows an individual to have their criminal record erased or sealed, making it inaccessible to the public. Essentially, it gives you the opportunity to start with a clean slate.
Who is eligible for expungement in Missouri?
Not all criminal offenses are eligible for expungement in Missouri. The eligibility criteria vary depending on the type of offense committed and the time that has passed since the offense was committed or the completion of any relevant sentence or probation. Generally, the following offenses may be eligible for expungement:
1. Misdemeanor offenses
2. Certain felony offenses, such as drug possession or non-violent property crimes
3. Arrest records where no charges were filed
4. Charges that were dismissed or acquitted
5. Charges that were not initiated by a prosecutor
6. Certain alcohol-related traffic offenses
It is important to note that some offenses, such as violent crimes, sexual offenses, and certain drug offenses, are not eligible for expungement.
Steps to expunge your record in Missouri:
1. Determine your eligibility: Research and understand the eligibility requirements for expungement in Missouri. Make sure your offense falls within the criteria set by the law.
2. Gather necessary documents: Collect all relevant documents related to your criminal case, including court records, arrest records, and any other supporting documentation.
3. Complete the necessary forms: Obtain the necessary expungement forms from the Missouri courts or their website. Fill out the forms accurately and provide all required information.
4. File the petition: File the completed forms with the circuit court in the county where the offense occurred. You may need to pay a filing fee, which varies by county.
5. Serve notice: After filing the petition, you must serve notice to the prosecuting attorney or the arresting agency. They have the right to object to your expungement request.
6. Attend the hearing: If there are no objections, the court will schedule a hearing to review your case. You may be required to provide additional evidence or testify during the hearing.
7. Await the court’s decision: The court will consider your petition and any objections raised. If the court grants your expungement request, your record will be sealed or erased as required by law.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
Q: How long does the expungement process take in Missouri?
A: The duration of the expungement process can vary depending on the complexity of your case and the caseload of the court. Generally, it can take several months to a year or more.
Q: Will my expunged record still be visible to law enforcement?
A: Expunged records are sealed from public access, but they may still be accessible to certain law enforcement agencies for specific purposes.
Q: Can I expunge multiple offenses at once?
A: Yes, you can request the expungement of multiple offenses in a single petition as long as they meet the eligibility requirements.
Q: Do I need an attorney to expunge my record?
A: While it is not required to have an attorney, seeking legal advice can be helpful to navigate the expungement process and ensure all requirements are met.
Q: Can I expunge a DUI conviction in Missouri?
A: DUI convictions are generally not eligible for expungement in Missouri. However, certain alcohol-related traffic offenses may qualify for expungement.
Expungement can provide individuals with the opportunity to move forward with their lives after a criminal conviction. Understanding the eligibility requirements and following the necessary steps is crucial to successfully expunge your record in Missouri. If you believe you qualify for expungement, consult with an attorney or seek legal resources to guide you through the process and increase your chances of a successful outcome.