Can I clear my criminal record in Missouri?

If you have a criminal history in Missouri but time has passed since your conviction, you may be wondering how you can clear your record. There is a specific process, expungement, that provides you with the possibility of clearing your criminal record.

There are various factors you must consider and prerequisites that you must meet in order to proceed successfully in expunging your criminal record in Missouri. Once you know the basics about how to move forward with the process, you may understand whether this is a possibility in your case.

Defining expungement

Not everyone understands exactly what expungement is. Expungement in Missouri is a way to seal your criminal record. Moving forward after an expungement, you can live your life as if the criminal record never existed. 

Expungement is a valuable tool because having a criminal record can prevent you from having access to many different opportunities in life, including employment and education. If you can expunge your record, you can clear away the past and approach these opportunities as if the mistakes had never occurred. That means if an employer asks you if you have ever been convicted of a crime, you can answer no. This will be an honest answer; your expungement effectively erases the conviction. You do not have to consider it as a part of your record when it comes to applying for a job or educational opportunity where a conviction may be an issue.

Explaining the process in Missouri

There is no federal statute for expungement, so each state determines its own laws regarding the process. At the start of 2018, Missouri enacted a new expungement law that expanded the possibility for an appeal for clemency to a wider variety of crimes. The law allows for the effective erasure of most misdemeanor and also many felony records, including drug crimes.

Missouri used to make convicted criminals wait a full 20 years before they could request an expungement, but the new law reduces this wait time to seven years after completion of the criminal sentence. For misdemeanors, the wait time went from 10 to three years.

If you are in a position to seek an expungement of your criminal record, you should start the process as soon as possible. Success can open new doors to you for living a full civic life. Your mistake would become a thing of the past that no longer has any impact on your current life.