St. Peters, MO, (Law Firm Newswire) January 22, 2016 - A proposed Missouri bill could decrease the amount of time a person convicted of a crime would have to wait before their record becomes eligible for expungement.
Expungement refers to the process of wiping a criminal conviction from an individual’s record. Missouri Senator Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, made the announcement during a press conference on December 15. The bill has been filed for the 2016 session with an aim to allow people to have certain nonviolent criminal convictions cleared from their records.
“Reducing expungement wait times will allow people opportunities for advancement that they were previously denied due to their criminal records,” said Charles James, a prominent criminal defense attorney in St. Peters, Missouri. “Having a criminal record can pose a number of challenges. Many individuals are not hired for jobs based on nonviolent crimes they committed a long time ago despite having paid their fines, served their sentences and committing no new offenses since then.”
According to current Missouri law, a person with a felony conviction is required to wait 20 years before becoming eligible to request a judge for expungement. Individuals with misdemeanors must wait 10 years after the sentence is completed. With the new bill, a petition for expunging a conviction can be filed after three years for a misdemeanor, ordinance violation or infraction. The wait time would be five years for a felony.
The law also proposes widening expungement eligibility for additional offenses. However, it would not apply to domestic assault crimes, felony kidnapping or assault offenses, crimes that involve death or sex offender registration, and other class A and violent felonies.
Criminal records often prevent people from finding employment, acquiring housing, building credit and getting licenses or loans, among other things. Dixon described the proposal as “a piece of the puzzle to really restore a sense of justice for people of all walks of life. This is my number one priority for this session.”
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