CAN I GET MY RECORD EXPUNGED?
I hear that question quite often but there’s no quick answer. The laws in the State of Missouri are ever changing and complex. The short answer is yes, except …… It’s that “except” part that is HUGE. Unfortunately, many people who would like to have a conviction expunged do not qualify under the statute. Before even thinking of trying to have your record of conviction expunged, there are several details that you want to have handy when you address this issue. You should hire an attorney to help you out with this process. Even though you may qualify, there are many issues to consider and present to the court when attempting to do so.
EXPUNGEMENT ISSUES TO CONSIDER
To start navigating this complex area of law, there are several facts that you’ll want to gather first if possible. Your attorney will ultimately want to know the answers to these questions, and the more you can gather in advance, the further along you’ll be. Do your research ahead of time and you’ll save time and money. Here’s the shortlist of facts to have available when asked.
- What are you trying to have expunged?
- Why? This is the most important question I can ask.
- When did it happen?
- What is the case number?
- Do you have any other criminal record?
- What have you been doing since then?
What Are You Trying to Expunge?
The notion of expungement applies to criminal convictions and arrest for the most part. You should know in advance that not all convictions are subject to being expunged. In addition, even if they are subject to being expunged, there are prerequisites that need to be met. Even if those prerequisites are met, there no guarantee that the Judge is going to grant the expunegment.
The list of previous convictions is huge, and time consuming to decipher. For that list, you can start here: Click Link.
Why Do You Want That Record Expunged?
This is an important consideration because at times, having your record of conviction expunged does not do what people want. If successful, you’ll receive an Order from the Court stating that your record is expunged. Does this actually accomplish your goal?
The Order of Expungement does not create a clean slate, it does not necessarily “wipe the past away.” For example, under R.S.Mo 610.140.9 and 10, you may very well still be required to disclose that conviction to a current or potential employer. In addition, even if your record is expunged, your right to possess a firearm will likely, if not most definitely still be effected. Be sure to speak with your attorney to completely understand what obligations still remain, even if the courts grants your request to expunge.
When did the Crime Your Trying to Expunge Happen?
One of the many prerequisites to have a criminal conviction expunged involves the amount of time since you were convicted. This is why it’s important to know the date of conviction. I can help you find that, but if you know it in advance, you will not have to pay to look that up. If you have any of the old paperwork, that is even better.
Do You Have Any Other Convictions on Your Record?
Again, this is one of the prerequisites. Having your criminal record will provide useful if you go down this path. In many instances, if you haven’t led a crime free life since the conviction you are trying to expunge, your efforts may be for nothing.
What Have You Been Doing Since That Conviction?
This is important, and not to be taken lightly. The court wants to know about you, and why they should grant you this request. In my office, we spend a lot of time putting together a complete package of information so the Judge can really understant that you’re no longer the same person, that you’re not going to go out and re-offend, that you deserve this chance.
So What Does an Order of Expungement Do?
The statute reads in part, “Except as otherwise provided under this section, the effect of such order shall be to restore such person to the status he or she occupied prior to such arrests, pleas, trials, or convictions as if such events had never taken place.”
Those words “Except as otherwise provided” are extremely important, and the statute provides a lot of exceptions. It will block or “close” the record of arrest, plea, trial and conviction making the records inaccessible to the public, but not to everyone. Certain people and government agencies will still have access to those records, including the federal government; think Second Amendment and voting.
If you are interested in expunging your conviction in order to restore your right to possess a firearm, not all hope is lost. While the conviction remains on the records kept by the FBI called the NCIC, there may be a way to challenge those records in an attempt to clear them as well, though the odds are generally not in your favor. Once the records are expunged by the state, you would have to then file a lawsuit challenging the failed background check that the feds do in order to grant you that right.
What Expunging Your Record Does Not Do
- Expunging your record is not the same as destroying your record
- It does not automatically restore your gun rights
- It does not “wipe the slate clean”
- It does not mean the crime didn’t happen
Ultimately, you want to be careful here. You want to understand what the results of all your hard work are going to be. You may very well be asking for something that’s impossible, or if possible, not what you really need. There are different methods for expunging a conviction and arrest, and varying reasons for doing each. Often, either is only the first step in a long process. Consult with an attorney who’s experienced in these issues. Research, knowledge, understanding and experience are key. There’s no easy one answer, and anyone who purports to have that one single answer will lead you down a path you may not need or want.
O’Fallon, MO 63366