Missouri residents saddled with excessive penalties for past crimes might soon find it simpler to expunge their criminal record. Until recently, very few offenses were eligible for expungement. The law also required many convicted individuals to wait for 20 years before they could apply for a clean record. The new rules represent a significant change in the way the state handles criminal records.
Fox News in St. Louis made a report on the change, mentioning some of the changes that bode well for individuals convicted of non-violent crimes. The new law, which took effect on January 1, made over 1,900 offenses eligible for expungement. It also reduced wait times reduced to three years for misdemeanors and seven for felonies. The Fox article went on to suggest that Missouri lawmakers took a cue from the success of similar programs in Kansas, citing lower crime rates and decreased dependency on social services.
The full text of the law, as listed on the Senate of Missouri’s website, describes several other benefits of the new expungement rules. For example, the court may decide to waive fees if the applicant is unable to pay. The law also illustrates the fact that that this law is by no means soft on serious crimes. All of the following are ineligible for this type of expungement:
- Registered sex offender crimes
- Class A felonies
- Dangerous felonies and offenses involving death
- Felony levels of many crimes, such as kidnapping and assault
Due to these sweeping changes, many people who were not eligible for expungement now have a chance to live with a clean criminal record. This could lead Missouri down a path of lower crime rates and better social integration.