How to Have a Criminal Record Expungement in Missouri

By Chuck Ayers

Criminal records in Missouri, unlike many other states, cannot be expunged. They can only be "closed." Arrest records for which you were charged with an offense but found not guilty or the charges were dismissed can be erased from the public record by filing a relatively simple form. True expungement in other states where you've been convicted of a crime is when a conviction will appear on public records as a non-conviction. This varies with the state and the nature of the crime. Sex crimes in many states cannot be expunged, but theft, burglary and other criminal offenses can be expunged to show that you weren't convicted. In Missouri, however, the only record that can be expunged is a DUI conviction older than 10 years and an alcohol-related juvenile offense. Closed records are not publicly accessible, but are available to the accused, law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and other court personnel, child care agencies, the Department of Revenue, in-home service providers, the Division of Workers' Compensation, criminal justice employers, child care employers, nursing home employers, and certain federal agencies. Also, alleged victims in cases that have been sealed have access to them for private civil action.

Closing Your Arrest Records

Obtain a petition for expungement of arrest records form either the clerk of courts for the circuit court in which you faced charges or online.

Complete both pages of the expungement form. You will attest to the fact that you have no prior or subsequent misdemeanors or felony convictions and did not receive a suspended sentence for the crime for which you were arrested. You must also certify that the arrest was based on false information, there was no probable cause for the arrest and no civil action is pending as a result of the arrest. Sign the paper, attesting to its veracity.

Provide a set of fingerprints for the court, which will likely be taken at the time you file the affidavit.

Submit the paperwork to the court and following court review, the arrest record is successfully expunged if you meet all the criteria set forth.

Expunging Convictions

Petition the circuit court in which charges were filed if you have turned age 21 and the alcohol-related incident is the single instance in which charges were brought. The criteria to expunge a single DUI conviction at least 10 years old follow the same procedure as that of closing a juvenile alcohol-related offense. If the court finds the criteria have been met, it issues an expungement order that, according to Missouri state law, shall "restore such person to the status he or she occupied prior to such arrest, plea or conviction, as if such event had never happened."

Provide documentation certifying that no other alcohol-related charges have been brought against you since the time of your initial arrest on an alcohol-related offense.

Produce witnesses and provide any other documentation for the attention of the court certifying your claim. Once the court is satisfied with the veracity of the claim, the juvenile record will be sealed. The same applies to those non-minor's convicted of one DUI offense at least 10 years prior to the petition.

Automatic Closing of Criminal Records

Sealing records is automatic in certain circumstances in Missouri. If charges do not result in a conviction, the court records are automatically sealed. The arrest records, however, are still a matter of public record and must be sealed according to the steps outlined above.

Suspending a sentence of a defendant also will automatically seal the court record at the close of a case, even if the defendant is convicted.

Closing court case records also will automatically occur if a defendant is found not guilty due to mental disease or insanity.

About the Author

Chuck Ayers began writing professionally in 1982, breathing life into obituaries, becoming a political and investigative reporter at a major East Coast metropolitan newspaper. He now freelances and is a California communications and political consultant. He graduated from American University, Washington, D.C., with degrees in political science and economics.

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