How to Expunge my Public Records in Missouri

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Deleting a public record refers to completely removing a record and destroying every trace of it such that no person or entity, private or public can refer to the record. Missouri does not allow anyone to delete public records. While it is possible to shield a record from public inspection or access, it cannot be completely deleted. The shielding of public records is only available under specific conditions and is made possible in line with a court order. Shielding a public record from view allows the subject of the record to go on to live without the stigma and reputation that may be attached to the event listed on the record.

What is a Public Record in Missouri?

The Missouri Sunshine Law expressly states that the meetings, records, votes, actions, and deliberations of governmental bodies are to be open to citizens of Missouri and the general public. The Law defined public records as any record, whether written or electronically stored, retained by or of any public governmental body. These include any report, survey, memorandum, or other document or study prepared for the public governmental body by a consultant or other professional service paid for in whole or in part by public funds. Although certain government records are exempted under the provisions of the Sunshine Law, Common examples of public records in Missouri include:

  • Birth records
  • Death records
  • Licensing records
  • Court records
  • Budgets
  • Statistical data
  • Voting records

Missouri public records also include records created or maintained by private contractors under an agreement with a public governmental body or on behalf of a public governmental body. Under the Sunshine Law, anyone can request public records without presenting a statement of purpose. By making records public, the Missouri government can provide important evidence of actions taken and decisions made by public officials, thereby allowing the government to remain accountable to the citizens.

Accountability is a major reason why public records cannot be deleted. Although Missouri citizens may have good cause to want records deleted, the state makes no such provisions. Missouri allows citizens to remove public access to public records, however, such records will be retained in some form and can be accessed in limited circumstances. Filing a petition to the court is the most common way of shielding a record from public access. In addition, we also offer record-sealing service to Missouri citizens who wish to start new lives without the handicap of previous misdemeanors.

Does Missouri allow Expungement?

Yes.  Arrest or convictions for most types of misdemeanors and non-violent felonies, including marijuana possession and other drug convictions are eligible for expungement in Missouri.

Although individuals can have expungement-eligible convictions on their criminal records, the Missouri expungement statute still identifies several other criteria that must be met before they can successfully file petitions for expungement. Individuals with misdemeanor convictions cannot file petitions until three years have passed since the completion of their sentence. Individuals with felony convictions must wait seven years.

Persons seeking expungement are also required to prove that they have no other misdemeanor or felony adjudications since they completed their sentence or probation, have paid their restitution and fines, and have no pending charges. After clearing these hurdles, an individual can file an expungement petition by listing all eligible offenses for which expungement is sought in the same application.

Missouri has a specific statute dealing directly with expunging DWI convictions. To qualify for a DWI expungement, the following conditions must be satisfied:

  • The DWI offense must be your first and only alcohol-related driving offense and must have been a misdemeanor rather than a felony DWI
  • The DWI charge must be at least 10 years old
  • Once you were convicted or plead to the DWI, you must not have had any subsequent alcohol-related driving offense
  • You must not have any subsequent alcohol-related driving charges, alcohol-related enforcement actions, or alcohol-related enforcement contacts pending at the time of the expungement hearing

Missouri also has specific requirements to be eligible to expunge a Minor in Possession (MIP) offense:

  • It must be the first time the offender has pled or been found guilty of a MIP
  • The petition must be filed after a period of not less than one year after reaching the age of 21
  • You must have no other alcohol-related convictions or alcohol-related enforcement contacts

Per Section 610.140 of the Missouri Revised Statutes, individuals are not allowed to have more than one felony offense and two misdemeanors expunged from their records during their lifetimes. If an individual was charged with multiple crimes arising from the same indictment or course of criminal conduct, all of those offenses may be included in a petition and will count as only one expungement towards the lifetime limit.

The following criminal offenses do not qualify for expungement in Missouri:

  • All Class A felonies
  • Any felony offense of assault, misdemeanor or felony of domestic assault, or felony offense of kidnapping
  • Any dangerous felony as contained in Section 556.061 of the Missouri Revised Statutes
  • Any crime requiring registration as a sex offender
  • Any felony offense where death is an element of the offense
  • Repeat DWI offenses (first-time DWI convictions can be expunged after 10 years if there have been no repeat offenses in that time)

How do I Expunge My Criminal Record in Missouri?

To expunge criminal records in Missouri, follow these steps:

During a hearing for an expungement petition, the court will consider several factors before determining if an expungement order will be issued. The considerations before the court include:

  • Whether each offense listed in the petition meets all the criteria under Section 610.140 of the Missouri Revised Statutes
  • Whether the petitioner's habit and conduct demonstrate that the petitioner is not a threat to the public safety of the state
  • Whether expungement is consistent with the public welfare and the interest of justice warrant the expungement

Upon entering an expungement order, a copy of the order will be provided to the petitioner and each entity possessing records subject to the order. Upon receiving the order of expungement, each entity must expunge any record in its possession relating to any offense, violation, or infraction listed in the petition.

Will My Expungement Record Show up on a Background Check in Missouri?

Expungement is the process by which offenders can petition a court to remove or seal records of arrests or convictions. In Missouri, expunged records will not appear on most background checks including non-FCRA compliant background checks. Only certain agencies including law enforcement and the court system can access expunged records. As such, you can legally answer "no" when asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime. However, Missouri expungement law requires anyone granted an expungement to disclose a conviction under certain circumstances if such profession requires a license, certificate, or permit issued by the State of Missouri. A conviction must also be disclosed if the individual is applying for employment in the following areas:

  • Emergency service providers
  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Banks or credit unions
  • Insurance industry
  • Any job where the employer is required to exclude applicants with criminal convictions from employment due to federal or state law

How to Seal a Record in Missouri

Missouri offers another form of record relief to individuals in the state other than expungement. Per Section 610-105 of the Missouri Revised Statutes, the state refers to this as "closure" and is available to persons arrested and charged where one of the following conditions applies:

  • Nolle Pros (Charges were dropped)
  • The charges were dismissed
  • The individual was not found guilty
  • The imposition of sentence was suspended

For persons to whom these conditions apply, their records will be automatically sealed or closed by the court. If that does not happen, the individual may contact the court clerk in the court where the charges were filed.

Who Can See My Sealed Record in Missouri?

In general, closed records will not be available to the public but will remain available to criminal justice agencies and to a few public entities for use in screening out applicants for licenses or employment in sensitive areas, such as:

  • Private security
  • Law enforcement
  • Employers entitled to the information under state or federal law
  • Employment involving the care of children, the elderly, and/or the disabled

Closed records will also be available to law enforcement for use in issuing firearm purchase and possession permits.

How to Delete Bankruptcy Records in Missouri

Bankruptcy is the point at which an individual or an organization unable to honor its financial obligations or make payment to creditors files a legal proceeding to get an automatic stay. An automatic stay puts a block on the debt and prevents creditors and collection agencies from pursuing debtors for the amounts owed. This allows the business or individual to have a fresh financial start. A bankruptcy suit can only be filed in a federal court.

A bankruptcy record will stay on credit reports and be publicly accessible for as long as seven or ten years from the filing date of the bankruptcy, depending on the chapter filed. Bankruptcy records are open records and can be accessed even through non-FCRA compliant records check services. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is automatically deleted after seven years. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy will be automatically deleted ten years from the filing date. Note that a Chapter 13 bankruptcy requires at least a partial repayment of the debts owed, while none of the debt owed is repaid in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

What are Consumer Protection Laws in Missouri?

The Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA) is the state's main consumer protection law. The Act seeks to ensure that consumers and businesses alike have the opportunity to operate in a marketplace that is free of deception, fraud, misrepresentation, false promises, unfair practices, and unfair competition. Most transactions including real estate, car purchases, service contracts, and loans serviced by National banks are covered in the MMPA. Missouri financial institutions, media, and insurance are the only types of transactions excluded under the Act. The MMPA allows aggrieved Missouri consumers to recover when companies act unfairly by bringing claims in court to recover their losses.

The MMPA permits lawsuits by anyone who made a purchase primarily for personal, family, or household purposes and thereby suffers an ascertainable loss of money or property. To prevail, you must prove that you:

  • Purchased of a merchandise
  • That the purchase was made for personal, family, or household purposes
  • Suffered an ascertainable loss of money or property
  • The loss was due to an act declared unlawful under Section 407.020 of the MMPA

Unlawful conduct under Section 407.020 of the MMPA includes the act, use, or employment by any person of any deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation, unfair practice or the concealment, suppression, or omission of any material fact in connection with the sale or advertisement of any merchandise in trade or commerce or the solicitation of any funds for any charitable purpose in or from the state of Missouri. The MMPA allows class actions that give Missouri consumers a chance to pursue their claims together. Consumers who succeed in their claims can recover attorney fees.

Although Missouri has no specific online privacy act governing online privacy, the state's Data Breach Notification Statute requires any business or other entities operating in Missouri to ensure the confidentiality of personal information, such as the name, social security number, bank or credit card account number, and medical information of Missouri residents in their possession. The Statute requires any entity that has your personal information, including your employer and companies you do business with, to notify you if there is a security breach of your personal information.

Other consumer protection laws in Missouri include:

  • Missouri Lemon Laws
  • Missouri Interest Rate Laws
  • Missouri Antitrust Laws
  • Missouri Homestead Laws
  • Missouri Identity Theft Laws

How to Delete Lien Records in Missouri

A lien is a claim a person, lender, or company makes on your property when you owe them money. It is used to protect a creditor from a buyer's or debtor's possible bankruptcy. Although some liens such as mortgage loans or home equity loans are voluntary, many are involuntary. Involuntary liens are placed on an item or property without the consent of the owner or debtor.

Liens are public records in Missouri and are not permitted to be deleted. Liens can only be removed by paying off the debt on a property or item, running out the statute of limitation on the property, or obtaining a court order authorizing the removal of a lien. A court will only grant an order instructing the removal of a lien when the invalid, has expired, or has lasted beyond the statute of limitation. A judgment lien in Missouri will remain attached to the debtor's property for 10 years. Liens are automatically lifted and deleted from public records after paying off the debt on the property or expiration of the statute of limitation.Lien records are maintained in the county recorder offices in Missouri. To search lien records, visit the location of the county recorder office in the county where the lien was filed. Some counties also allow the public to search lien records online. For instance, tax lien records in Green County can be searched online through the Green County government website.

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