Unpacking the 2018 Missouri Expungement Law: Senate Bill 588

There are far-reaching effects of a felony on a person’s life. After their incarceration is over or they have taken an SES on a plea deal and thus a convicted felon. It is a tough but not an unachievable goal of expunging an old felony charge, your conviction status will make that a serious challenge. Convicted Felons lose some of their civil rights, like the right to vote, hold public office, serve on a jury or own firearms because crimes against individuals are essentially crimes against society. As a convicted felon you have to undergo a tough process showing you are worthy of being a citizen again and worthy of having their rights restored.

They encounter difficulty in getting jobs because any background check will reveal their conviction and many employees won’t hire felons. They might lose a professional license or permit that they had in line with their work before they were incarcerated, and it might be difficult to regain it when they re-enter society. For example, if you have a felony DWI or DUI you will not be able to get employment in professions like teaching, nursing, as a truck driver, police officer, firefighter etc. where a CDL license is required.

Another area that affects felons, is securing housing. Many housing sources refuse to let felons rent. Felons might not be able to secure federal assistance for food stamp programs or get loans or grants to pursue higher education. Traveling outside of the U.S. might also be a major problem as some countries have strict rules regarding convicted felons entering their borders. These factors can create negative outcomes for felons who are unable to move forward in their lives after a conviction.

The Road to Senate Bill 588 Adoption

The 2018 Missouri Expungement Law brings some welcome relief to felons wanting to change their lives by becoming productive members of society. On July 13, 2016 the Missouri Expungement Bill (SB 588) received bipartisan support in the Missouri General Assembly and was signed by Governor Jay Nixon. It was sponsored by Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield and the bill’s amendments to state law help non-chronic offenders to have their records wiped clean. The bill came into effect on January 1, 2018 causing a surge of thousands of individuals to seek to have their records expunged.

The 13 Offense Expungement Bill of the Past

For the past four decades there has been little relief for felons seeking to have their criminal convictions expunged in Missouri. Attorney’s frequently receive high volumes of requests for assistance in this regard as individuals seek to restore a sense of dignity or self worth – but there has been little we could do to offer legal support in the past. The previous expungement law only included 13 misdemeanor offenses that could be wiped from a criminal record – including passing bad checks, negligent burning or exploding, tampering, private peace disturbance, gambling, first-degree trespass, being drunk in church etc. First time DWI convictions along with B and C misdemeanors could qualify to be expunged in the past, but only after 10- years of good behavior!

The New Law

With the 2018 Missouri Expungement Law, a process has been created where around 1,900 eligible offenses can be sealed. Some individuals with misdemeanor convictions can file petitions after three years and those with felonies, after seven years. That waiting time used to be 10 and 20 years respectively. This law opens the door for thousands of offenders to petition the courts to seal or remove their records of arrests and convictions as of January 1, 2018. After a successful petition those with no other criminal record, will be able to honestly answer “no” to inquiries about whether they have a criminal record (Unless a specific employer is required by law to exclude certain applicants).

“We see this as giving people a second chance” and “giving that to as many people as possible,” said Farrah Fite, spokeswoman for the Missouri Bar.

The Petition Process

When eligible convicts are ready to start their petition process they have to file them in the jurisdiction where they were arrested, charged, and found guilty. When filing the paperwork you have to sure that the petition includes the names of all municipal Prosecuting attorneys, law enforcement agencies, courts, and state repositories of criminal records. Essentially, any entity that might have records of the crimes they wish to have expunged. It’s also required that they list each and every offense they wish to have expunged.

The state of Missouri will then have a 30-day period in which to file objections to the petition. If an objection is filed, the court will hold a hearing within a 60-day period. If there’s no objection the court will hold a hearing within 30 days. Interestingly enough, while the 3 and 7 year waiting period has been stated, the bill does not explicitly require this in every case, so there might be cases where an earlier expungement is possible. The individual will also have to show the court that their behavior and conduct has changed since their release, make them a qualified candidate for expungement. This is a typically the main element that decides whether the court will grand the expungement or not. Lastly, the petition process can take as little as 120-days resulting in a removal of their criminal record from potential landlords, employers and financial institution immediately.

There are of course convictions that cannot be expunged and they include (see full list at the end of the article):Class A felony offenses

    • Class A felony offenses
    • Dangerous felonies as defined in section 556.061 of Missouri statutes
    • Any offense that required registration as a sex offender
    • Any felony where death is an element I the offense
    • Any felony offense of assault
    • Any misdemeanor or felony of domestic assault
    • Any felony or offense of kidnapping
    • Intoxication-related offenses
    • Violation of laws regulating the operation of a commercial motor vehicle

There is an application fee of $250, but if the person is indigent or has no means of income this fee can be waived. Petition forms are currently available at all courthouses in Missouri.

How Senate Bill 588 Could Affect Other Missouri Laws

The new bill could affect the expungement of arrest records. Section 610.122 of the Missouri Statutes currently allows expungement of these, if the arrest was based on false information, there was no probable cause to believe the individual committed the offense, no charges were pursued and the subject did not receive a suspended imposition or sentence. With Senate Bill 588 convictions can be expunged, which seems that the qualifying list of arrests might also be expunged in time. The Missouri Legislature will probably need to expand the current list of arrest records that can be expunged so it is more in line with Senate Bill 588.

The Impact of Senate Bill 588 on Unemployment Rates

Beyond the Conviction Building Brighter Futures, a nonprofit, says that the sealing of old criminal records will help ex-cons with finding housing and jobs. These are two of the biggest barriers, for individuals with criminal records, to build a new life for themselves after incarceration.“We might drop down to two percent unemployment rate because there are jobs out there,” said York Wilson with BTC Building Brighter Futures.

“It’s just the fact of people having records or having things to hinder them, that they won’t be able to get the job. So people will be more employable, and it’ll be better for the community.”

When former felons can find work the chances of them falling back into crime drops dramatically, and they also do not have to rely on social services to stay afloat.

How We Can Assist You

Our attorneys have been studying this new law to bring the best possible outcomes for our clients as there are still many impediments to expungement in Senate Bill 588. For individuals with convictions of crimes against property or for drug crimes there is relief on the horizon with the 2018 Missouri Expungement Law. Give us a call so we can explain the petition process to you and help you to start a new life without the burden of a criminal record. We’re here and we’re listening. Here is the full list of felony convictions that CANNOT BE expunged:

  • Any class A felony
  • Any offense that requires registration as a sex offender
  • Any felony where death is an element of the offense
  • Any felony assault
  • Any domestic assault
  • Any felony kidnapping
  • Any ordinance violation equivalent to an ineligible offense
  • Any motor vehicle offense or violation when the individual has a CDL
  • 556.061: Any dangerous felony
  • Ch. 566: Any offense listed in chapter 566 (sex offenses)
  • Ch. 577: Any intoxication-related traffic, boating or aircraft offense
  • 105.454: Additional prohibited acts by certain public officials and employees
  • 105.478: Violation of lobbying and conflict of interest laws
  • 115.631: Class one election offenses
  • 130.028: Discrimination or intimidation related to elections
  • 188.030: Abortion of viable unborn child
  • 188.080: Abortion performed by other than a physician with hospital privileges
  • 191.677: Prohibited acts related to HIV
  • 194.425: Abandonment of a corpse without notifying authorities
  • 217.385: Violence or injury to property or others in the DOC
  • 334.245: Abortions performed by someone other than a licensed physician
  • 375.991: Fraudulent insurance act
  • 389.653: Trespass to railroad property
  • 455.085: Violation of protection order
  • 455.538: Violation of protection order
  • 557.035: Hate offenses
  • 574.140: Cross burning
  • 565.120: Kidnapping, 2nd degree
  • 565.130: Kidnapping, 3rd degree
  • 565.156: Child abduction
  • 568.020: Incest
  • 568.030: Abandonment of a child, 1st degree
  • 568.032: Abandonment of a child, 2nd degree
  • 568.045: Endangering the welfare of a child, 1st degree
  • 568.060: Abuse or neglect of a child
  • 568.065: Female genital mutilation
  • 573.200: Child used in sexual performance
  • 573.205: Promoting sexual performance by child
  • 568.175: Trafficking in children
  • 569.040: Arson, 1st degree
  • 569.050: Arson, 2nd degree
  • 569.055: Knowingly burning or exploding
  • 569.060: Reckless burning or exploding
  • 569.065: Negligent burning or exploding
  • 569.100: Property damage, 1st degree
  • 569.160: Burglary, 1st degree
  • 570.025: Robbery, 2nd degree
  • 570.030: Stealing
  • 570.090: Forgery
  • 570.100: Possession of a forging instrument
  • 570.130: Fraudulent use of a credit or debit device
  • 570.180: Defrauding secured creditors
  • 570.223: Identity theft
  • 570.224: Trafficking in stolen identities
  • 570.310: Mortgage fraud
  • 571.020: Possession, manufacture, transport, repair or sale of certain weapons
  • 571.030: Unlawful use of weapons
  • 571.060: Unlawful transfer of weapons
  • 571.063: Fraudulent purchase of firearm
  • 571.070: Possession of firearm for certain persons
  • 571.072: Unlawful possession of an explosive weapon
  • 571.150: Use or possession of a metal penetrating bullet in a crime
  • 574.070: Promoting civil disorder, 1st degree
  • 574.105: Money laundering
  • 574.115: Making a terrorist threat, 1st degree
  • 574.120: Making a terrorist threat, 2nd degree
  • 574.130: Agro-terrorism
  • 575.040: Perjury
  • 575.095: Tampering with a judicial officer
  • 575.153: Disarming a police or correctional officer
  • 575.155: Endangering a corrections employee
  • 575.157: Endangering a mental health employee, visitor or other offender
  • 575.159: Aiding a sexual offender
  • 575.195: Escape from commitment, detention or conditional release
  • 575.200: Escape or attempted escape from custody
  • 575.210: Escape or attempted escape from confinement
  • 575.220: Failure to return to confinement
  • 575.230: Aiding escape of prisoner
  • 575.240: Permitting escape
  • 575.353: Assault on a police animal
  • 577.078: Water contamination
  • 577.703: Bus hijacking or attempt to hijack a bus
  • 577.706: Planting a bomb in or near a bus terminal
  • 632.520: Offender committing violence against an employee

If you or someone you know is a convicted felony crime that’s not on this list and you’re looking for a Missouri expungement attorney, please contact Combs Law Group today. Hiring a felony expungement lawyer can streamline the process for you so that you avoid all the red tape involved with the state of Missouri court system. Check out our Felony Expungement services here for more information.

About Chris Combs

A St. Louis native and graduate of Saint Louis University Law School, Chris Combs has been recognized as one of St. Louis' top criminal defense and personal injury attorneys. He is passionate about getting positive results for all his clients and values personal communication above all.

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