CLAYTON, MO - A change in Missouri’s law will make it possible for thousands of registered sex offenders to have their names removed from the statewide registry. The new law took effect on Tuesday.
The law creates a 3-tier system based on the seriousness of the crime. Offenders committing the more serious offenses will not be able to remove their names from the list while offenders committing less serious offenses can petition a court to have their name removed.
We spoke with a registered sex offender from the St. Louis area who asked us not to reveal his identity. He said his legal trouble was the result of a high school relationship with an underage girl. He plans on meeting with an attorney soon to have his name removed.
“I’m trying to be part of society,” he said.
Matthew Radefeld is a criminal defense attorney with the law firm Frank, Juengel and Radefeld. He said his firm receives more than a dozen phone calls daily from registered sex offenders wanting to know how they can try to have their name removed. He believes this new law will put thousands of offenders in a position to petition the courts for consideration.
“Often times these people don’t even have a conviction on their record because they may have received a suspended imposition of sentence on a misdemeanor,” said Radefeld.
He recalls one case involving a baseball fan who urinated at Busch Stadium. The police report indicated a minor was present. That resulted in the individual ending up on the sex offender registry. Radefeld said his firm was able to convince a court to have that individual’s name removed.
His law firm has found that those who are on the list often complain they cannot find anyone willing to hire them. Some are restricted from attending their own child’s activities such as school plays where other children are present. The registered sex offender we talked with said he’s struggled to find work.
“I have a few buddies who throw me something here and there when it’s some out of the way, nobody can see me, my name doesn’t have to be on anything,” he said. “I might make $100 that day.”
He believes the new law is a step in the right direction because while it gives some offenders the opportunity to have their names removed, it will keep the names of offenders committing serious crimes on the list for their lifetime.