Missouri residents with criminal records may get help

The Governor of Missouri recently signed a new bill that will allow many Missouri residents to seal their criminal records.

Living with a criminal record is not always easy. Missouri residents with past criminal offenses know that their histories will become visible to potential landlords, lenders, employers and more in background checks. In some cases, the black mark from a previous criminal conviction may prevent someone from getting a job, a new house or even doing volunteer work to help others.

Moving forward is the goal

It is this inability to move forward in a positive way that led a State Senator to pursue a bill that would give more people the ability to have their criminal histories sealed. According to Cannabis Now, law enforcement agencies will still be able to see records that are expunged but no details of such offense will be reported in background checks for jobs, housing, loans, volunteer activities and more.

Not all crimes eligible for expungement

Missourinet explains that the bill was introduced earlier this year and was signed by the Governor in July of this year. It will not take effect, however, until the start of 2018. Once enacted, some felonies as well as some misdemeanors will be able to be expunged if approved after request.

The original bill was specific about which crimes would not be able to be expunged. These include any offense for which a person is required to register as a sex offender. In addition, people may not have records relating to any sex crimes or violent crimes sealed. There is also a cap on the number of records that can be expunged. No defendant may seal more than one felony offense.

Specific criteria must be met

In addition to outlining the nature of offenses that may be eligible for expungement, there are other requirements that defendants must meet in order for their criminal records to be sealed.

If a person was required to pay any restitution or fines as part of a sentence, these must be fully satisfied in order for the offense to be sealed. Similarly, any portion of an original sentence must be completed before expungement can be granted. It is also important for people to not have had any other criminal offenses on their records when the offense for which they are requesting expungement happened.

Expungement for misdemeanors may only be requested if at least three years has transpired since the offense. For felonies, defendants must wait seven years before making a request.

Talking to an attorney is important

Missouri residents who want to know about sealing their criminal histories should always talk to an attorney. This can help them to understand the process and potential cost involved of expunging their records.