How to get your Felony or Misdemeanor Conviction Expunged in St. Louis County
Feb. 19, 2021
You went to the job interview and everything went well. They hired you on the spot and you filled out the New Employee paperwork. Then after a week on the job your boss calls you into his office and says "we've got a problem with the paperwork."
Remember that application you filled out before your interview? The one that asked all sorts of questions about you, including your job history and where you last worked. There was also a question about whether you ever plead guilty to or were convicted of a misdemeanor or felony. Even though you were previously arrested and charged with a Felony you didn't get a conviction, just an SIS. The case was even removed from Casenet. So, you answered "No".
Part of the onboarding process for your new job included your employer running a Criminal History Background Check. These background checks come in all different flavors, but for the most part, they all include any arrests or charges a person may have on their record, including whether you have ever entered a plea of guilty or were convicted.
Whenever you take a Plea Deal you have to enter a plea of guilty. If you complete your probation, then your record won't reflect a conviction under some circumstances. But there is still a record of your arrest, charge, and finding of guilt by the Court. Simply answering "No" to a question on a job application about your criminal history because you don't have a conviction could cost you your job.
THE EXPUNGEMENT PROCESS
The process you follow will depend on whether you want to have a previous DWI expunged or a charge like stealing removed from your record. Missouri law outlines the process to follow for expunging any eligible non-DWI offenses in RSMo. 610.140. Most felonies and misdemeanors are able to be expunged so long as you meet the prerequisite criteria. For a list of those offenses which have been specifically exempted from expungement by the Missouri State Legislature see RSMo. 610.140.2.
Remember, it doesn't matter what you were charged with but only those charges for which the court entered a finding of guilty. Often clients will think their previous conviction is ineligible because of the underlying charge, when in fact they plead guilty to a reduced charge as part of a plea agreement. An attorney will make sure no stone is left unturned with your expungement application.
It is important to know the name of the arresting agency and the municipal court division in order to make sure all traces of your case are located and expunged. You may have been arrested by a Municipal Officer if you live in St. Louis County. And if you don't remember the name of the arresting agency (i.e., the police department where the arresting officer was employed), then you likely won't list them as a Defendant in the petition. This will make any expungement order ineffective against those agencies and courts not listed.
The Expungement Order will not affect those agencies or courts not named in the Petition.
GATHER THE INFORMATION
Before you can get your expungement, you first need to gather all the necessary information. This includes a wide range of information identifying you, the defendants and the charges.
Aside from your full name you will need your date of birth, driver's license number, race, sex, and your current address. If this information is missing from the petition you may be required to start over and refile.
As noted earlier, if a court or police department is not listed as a defendant in your petition, then the expungement order will have no effect on them. Too often someone will appear in court on their own behalf only to be told that they have failed to list an important party as a defendant. If this happens to you, the Court will require you to file an Amended Petition and have the missing parties properly notified. Or, a court may proceed and issue an expungement order that has no effect on the missing party; which would be worse than having to file an Amended Petition.
You not only need to list the different cases you want expunged, but for each case you need to list the county where each charge was filed and the case numbers for each charge. Finally, you must include the name of the court where each case was heard.
Once you have gathered all of the necessary information you then will be prepared to draft a petition for filing in the circuit court in the county of your arrest. An attorney like Anthony S. Bretz who is experienced with drafting and arguing expungement petitions can help you.
PREPARE THE PETITION
After you and your attorney have gathered all of the necessary information, it is time to draft a petition. Best practice is to draft a petition, an affidavit of petitioner, and a proposed order. An experienced attorney will know exactly whom to list as Respondents and what specific information is needed in all three documents.
A petition for expungement under RSMo. 610.140 can be completed simply by using the Court's pre-approved form. You can do this yourself; however, having an attorney fill it out for you ensures that you will not leave any important information out of the Petition.
A petition for expungement of a DWI under RSMo. 610.130 will need to be drafted from scratch. Again, you could do this yourself but the Court will not forgive fatal mistakes that an attorney would have caught. And because the DWI expungement statute significantly differs from the Felony and Misdemeanor non-DWI expungement statute, you are better off having an experienced DWI Attorney handle the petition for you.
After you have prepared the petition and it is signed, it is time to file it with the Court. The St. Louis County Circuit Clerk's office will handle serving the named Defendants in your expungement petition.
From the date they are served with the petition, each defendant will have Thirty Days to file an answer or objections. The Court will then set the matter for a hearing.
Your appearance may be required in Court at the hearing even if you have signed and your attorney has filed an Affidavit. This is a Judge-by-Judge decision whether or not you will need to be present during the hearing.
At the hearing, so long as none of the Defendants object to the request for an expungement, and you meet all of the prerequisites, the Court will enter an order making the records associated with your DWI, (or if non-DWI) Felony or Misdemeanor conviction or charge, confidential and only available to the parties or the court for good cause shown.
With few exceptions, you will be able to state "No" on job applications when asked if you have ever been arrested, charged or convicted (assuming you have no other charges outstanding which you did not identify in your petition). Saying "No" in this situation will not be grounds for perjury.
The DWI Expungement Statute (RSMo. 610.130) does "not apply to any individual who has been issued a commercial driver's license or is required to possess a commercial driver's license issued by this state or any other state."
If you would like more information or wish to get started on expunging your prior Felony or Misdemeanor arrest, plea, or conviction for non-DWI charges, or your Misdemeanor DWI, contact our office. Don't wait for your second chance at a clean slate. Call now!