Legal Lens: Expungement explained; how expungement laws have changed

Legal Lens

The Brown & Crouppen Legal Lens takes a closer look at everyday legal issues and gives you a better understanding of topics that may affect you.

ST. LOUIS – What is expungement and how have expungement laws changed? Andrea McNairy, managing attorney at Brown & Crouppen, explains it all in this week’s Legal Lens.

“Expungement is when a court seals a public record and keeps it from being publicly accessible in most cases. There are still certain instances where it can be accessible but for all intents and purposes, the court seals the record,” McNairy said. 

What are some new changes going on with expungement that people should know about?

“There’s been a lot changes over the past few years. Before 2018, there were fewer than a dozen offenses that you could expunge. Now, there are more than 1,900 crimes that can be expunged. A lot of people are unaware to the changes to the law but the changes could really help a lot of people,” she said.

 What should people do?

Yeah, like I said over 1,900 crimes can be expunged now, and the ones that can’t are related to sex offenses, domestic assaults, or class felonies involving violent crime,” McNairy said. 

“Now, if you are interested in it, there is a general criterion. You need to pay your fine off, have completed your parole or probation, and for a felony for seven years, you need a clean record. Or if you are trying to expunge a misdemeanor, a clean record for three years.

“If you think you are somebody who could qualify for this, you have two options. You can per se, it’s $250 to file an expungement. Forms are available on the Missouri courts website, or you can consult with a criminal attorney, legal services.”

Why is this so important for someone to consider expungement?

“For a lot of reasons, for one, problems getting employment, business loans, student loans, housing, credit, also a stigma attached to being convicted of a crime whether it’s a misdemeanor of a non-violent felony,” McNairy said.

McNairy said expungement grants rights back to people who have served their sentence.  

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