A new Missouri law that became effective in 2018 makes expungement available to more people who have state crimes on their records.

There are exclusions, but the law encompasses both felonies and misdemeanors. Are you among those who can qualify for expungement?

The benefits

Currently, you may find it difficult to get the kind of job you want or rent the apartment you had in mind. The internet makes background checks easy, and most employers and landlords routinely perform such checks. Expungement will open doors for you in many instances. As with the old law, once the court clears your record, you can truthfully deny that you have an expunged conviction. There are exceptions, which include insurers, banks and any employer who must by law to exclude applicants who have certain types of convictions.

Changing the waiting period

For expungable felonies, the new law cuts the waiting period from 20 years to seven years once you complete your sentence. For misdemeanors, the waiting period drops from 10 years to three years.

Who is eligible

To qualify for expungement, you must have satisfied all the obligations that accompanied your sentence and you cannot have any convictions during the waiting period. If you meet the criteria, the next step will be the creation of a “presumption in favor of expungement.” This could fail if either the victim or the prosecution labels you as “a threat to the public safety of the state.” The court could find that expunging your record would not serve “the interests of justice,” unlikely though that may be.

Closed records

Expungement does not mean your criminal record is erased; it will become a closed record. This means that while not available to the public, the closed record will be available to criminal justice agencies and to certain entities such as those involved with law enforcement, security, care of children, the elderly or the disabled.

Looking ahead

Explore your legal options. Whether you have a felony conviction or a misdemeanor, you can look forward to new beginnings if you qualify for the expungement of your criminal record.