- What happens if a criminal record is expunged and that information is released when it shouldn’t be?
Missouri law dictates that when a listed party on the petition to expunge fails to properly expunge a criminal record, that party could be subject to criminal prosecution. Specifically, RSMO Sec.§ 610.125 dictates that if a party fails to properly expunge, obliterate or releases arrest information which is ordered expunged they could be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor. Facing anywhere from one day to one hundred days in the county jail and/or a fine not to exceed five hundred dollars.
If the party named in the expungement petition fails to properly expunge the arrest information of the individual and uses the arrest information for financial gain, that person is guilty of a Class E felony. A Class E felony carries with it a range of punishment for one day to one year in a county jail to two years to four years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.
- Why do you need an attorney for the expungement process?
The expungement process is a complicated legal proceeding. It requires filing a petition and serving all necessary parties. It’s important to note that in most expungement petitions, there are multiple parties that will need to be listed, notified and served with the petition to expunge. This includes law enforcement agencies, prosecuting attorneys, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Department of Revenue and circuit clerks’ offices. Failure to properly serve anyone of these parties may make elements of your expungement petition ineffective.
Hiring an experienced expungement attorney helps secure your petition will be handled in a professional and timely manner. It also helps guarantee that the appropriate parties will be served. This way making sure you get the full enjoyment of your expungement when such order is granted by the court.
Another issue that many people do not realize is that expungement petitions will often times be argued in court. Under Missouri law, all parties to the expungement petition have a right to a hearing. In fact, upon receipt of the expungement petition, the court will set a hearing date. At that hearing date, individuals will be expected to provide testimony on why the expungement petition should be granted. It is important to have an experienced attorney that can effectively navigate these court proceedings on your behalf.
- What can you expect at an expungement hearing?
It is always important to discuss what to expect at any particular hearing with an attorney. In general, you can expect the judge to review your petition for expungement. The court will then make a determination based on the evidence heard on whether or not an expungement shall be granted.
Under Missouri law, judges are requested to look for whether or not it is in the best interest of the citizens of Missouri that an expungement be granted. In making this examination, the courts will often look to see whether or not the individual is a risk to the safety of the citizens of Missouri. The court may also look to see if there is any other type of criminal record that may preclude an individual from obtaining an expungement.
The expungement petition will name numerous parties. At this hearing date, those parties have a right to be heard. At that hearing, those parties which may include; law enforcement offices, prosecuting attorneys, Department of Revenue and Missouri State Highway Patrol, have a right to be heard. They could present evidence showing why the expungement should be dismissed or not be granted. In many cases there might be legal argument whether a person is eligible for expungement. Having an experienced attorney could be the difference between being successful in expunging a criminal record or not.
At the end of the hearing, the court will determine whether to grant the order of expungement. The judge will then sign the order and order it served upon the necessary parties in order for the expungement to take place.
- Does the expungement process restore all my Federal rights?
This is a difficult question to answer as it is not settled whether or not your criminal conviction would be expunged from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) database. The Missouri expungement law outlines the Missouri Highway Patrol shall request the FBI remove any record of criminal conviction from its databases. However, Missouri Courts do not have jurisdiction to demand that the FBI remove these records. Thus, it is a case-by-case basis as to whether or not the FBI will actually remove a record.
In many situations, the FBI will not recognize a state expungement. It is important to discuss this issue with your attorney to understand exactly what is taking place in regards to your federal record.
- How long does the expungement process take?
An expungement process will take a different length of time for each individual. As a general guideline, it will take anywhere from two months to six months to complete the expungement process. It will take at least 30 days from the time of filing because Missouri Law allows for all parties 30 days to respond to an expungement petition.
The older the case, the more time it is going to take to get court records that are necessary to start the expungement process. In some jurisdictions it can take months to get criminal records. Once the criminal records are obtained, the petition for expungement can filed.
- After I hire a lawyer what needs to happen to expunge my criminal record?
In order to expunge any type of criminal record, there’s some steps the Missouri Law outlines that must take place. First – there must be a petition filed within the appropriate specific court. Your lawyer should take care in drafting this petition to fit your needs. Second – the individual must file with their petition a fingerprint card. It is important to note this fingerprint card cannot be a digital fingerprint card, but must be a hard copy. These fingerprint cards are available at most law enforcement agencies through certain hours of that day. And finally you have to show up in court.
In other words, let your lawyer work the case and stay out of trouble.
- What is the cost of filing for an expungement?
The cost of filing for an expungement varies. Felony expungements tend to be more difficult and require significantly more time than misdemeanor expungements, so they tend to be more expensive. It also true the older the case is, the more difficult it is to obtain the necessary information for the expungement petition. In order to correctly fill out a petition for an order of expungement, an attorney needs to know when the arrest took place; who the arresting agency was; and how the case was resolved. In situations where the records are decades old, a significant amount of effort can be required in order to obtain these records from the appropriate circuit clerk’s office.
It is important also to know that every expungement petition is accompanied with a filing fee. In our cases, the filing fee is included in the flat cost to pay for the expungement. Generally, we charge $1750 dollars for a misdemeanor expungement and $2500 dollars for a felony expungement. If you have any questions regarding the costs and fees required for an expungement, please don’t hesitate to contact our office.
- Are all crimes eligible for expungement?
Not all crimes are eligible for expungement. Many serious felonies and dangerous felonies are not eligible for expungement. As a general rule, most misdemeanors are eligible for expungement, but there are some limited misdemeanors that either have separate expungement rules, like DWIs, or are ineligible for expungement. It is important to contact an attorney in order to determine whether a case is eligible for expungement.
- Why consult an attorney for expungement?
Under Missouri Law, criminal record expungement requires a court action in which a judge determines if you’re eligible for expungement. The court will then access whether or not the individual meets the required criteria in order to be eligible for expungement. Each expungement law is uniquely different. For example, the rules on misdemeanors and DWIs and felonies are all different in regards to eligibility for expungement. It is important to consult an experienced expungement lawyer who understands the law and can advise you on whether or not you qualify.
- How many expungements can an individual get in a lifetime?
An individual is able to obtain one (1) felony expungement and two (2) misdemeanor expungements in their lifetime. However, if the individual has been charged with a misdemeanor crime or infraction that does not face jail time, those crimes do not have a limit on the number that can be expunged.
Have any questions?
Our highly-experienced team is more than happy to address any questions or concerns that you may have regarding the expungement process. Contact us today for your free consultation.