Missouri Court Records
Sealing and Expunging Criminal Records in Missouri
In Missouri, the expungement of criminal records is a form of post-conviction relief given to criminal defendants. Life after being or convicted of a crime may be challenging. Not only because normal life activities such as immigration, education, insurance, credit, housing, and employment are not easily provided to such persons, but also because of the associated social stigma. Therefore, Missouri State grants certain past offenders or defendants the option to seal/close or destroy their criminal information or conviction. Typically, the expungement process begins by filing a petition in a Missouri court.
The Difference Between Sealing and Expunging Criminal Records
In Missouri, sealing a criminal record is referred to as “closing” and is used in relation to expungement. In the state, expungement refers to the destruction or closing of criminal records, including records of arrests, pleas, trials, and convictions by a court of law. Records that cannot be destroyed by law are closed by an expungement order in Missouri. A closed record is confidential to the general public, except as otherwise provided in section 610.124. Missouri’s expungement laws are codified under sections 610.130 - 610.150, RSMo.
How to Seal a Criminal Record in Missouri
The procedure for closing/sealing a criminal record is the same as that of expunging it in Missouri. Information on closing/sealing a criminal record in Missouri is available in the “how to expunge a criminal record in Missouri” section of this article.
What Crimes Can Be Expunged in Missouri?
- Class A felonies
- Dangerous felonies outlined in section 556.061
- Sex offenses
- Felonies involving death
- Felonies involving assault, kidnapping, and domestic assault
- Misdemeanors involving domestic assault
- Offenses eligible for expungement under section 610.130
- Identity theft, money laundering, perjury, agroterrorism, arson, and other offenses listed under section 610.140(6)
- Intoxication-related traffic or boating offenses under section 577.001 and intoxication-related aircraft offenses
- Ordinance violations that are significant equivalents of any offense ineligible for expungement under section 610.140(2)
- Offenses committed by individuals who are required to have or were issued commercial driver’s licenses
- Offenses listed under section 571.030, excluding section 571.030 subdivision 1.(1) for convictions before January 1, 2017
How to Expunge Criminal Records in Missouri
Missourians can request three types of expungements in the state:
- Expungement of arrest records
- Expungement of arrest, plea, trial, and conviction records
- Expungement based on mistaken identity
- Expungement of arrest records:
Missouri law allows certain individuals to expunge their arrest records. To expunge an arrest record of a criminal case, an individual must file the CR 145 Petition for Expungement of Arrest Records form in a Circuit Court in the county of arrest. When the court grants an expungement, the court orders any agency with the criminal records to close or destroy all records related to the arrest. However, to qualify for this type of expungement, an individual must meet the following criteria:
- No prior or subsequent felony or misdemeanor convictions
- No suspended imposition of sentence (SIS) received for an offense where an arrest occurred
- No probable cause to believe that the offense was committed by the petitioner
- No pending civil action related to the arrest or record being petitioned for expungement
- No charges pursued in the arrest
- The petitioner was acquitted of the offense, or charges were dismissed
- The arrest was for a misdemeanor offense under chapter 303 or a moving violation under section 302.010, RSMo, excluding intoxication-related offenses under section 577.001, RSMo
- The petitioner does not own a commercial driver’s license and was not operating a commercial motor vehicle when arrested
- Expungement of arrest, plea, trial, and conviction records:
To expunge an arrest, plea, trial, and conviction record, individuals may petition the court where the criminal case was heard using the CR 360 Petition for Expungement form. Each filing costs $250. However, a judge may waive this cost upon discovery that the petitioner is indigent and cannot pay the fee. A petitioner may request a waiver by filing the Motion and Affidavit in Support of Request to Proceed as a Poor Person, along with the expungement petition form. Apart from ensuring that an offense is eligible for expungement under 610.140(2), a petitioner must also meet the following criteria, as indicated in section 610.140 subdivision 5.(1):
- No pending criminal charges
- For felonies, at least seven years must have passed from the completion of a sentence before filing the petition
- For a misdemeanor, municipal offense, or infraction, at least three years must have passed from the completion of a sentence before filing the petition
- The petitioner has satisfied all obligations, fines, or restitution related to a sentence
- No new convictions (felonies or misdemeanors) within the three or 7-year waiting period for expungement
- The expungement is in the interest of justice and public welfare
- The petitioner’s conduct or habits are not a threat to the public safety of the state
A petition must include the names of agencies and state repositories that may have the record(s) being petitioned for expungement. Per lifetime, an individual has granted expungement for one felony offense and not more than two misdemeanor offenses/ordinance violations where a prison sentence was imposed.
- Expungement based on mistaken identity:
Some individuals have been named in a charge (felony, misdemeanor, or infraction) because of mistaken identity or have had their charges dismissed under section 610.145, RSMo. Such individuals may file an expungement for mistaken identity using the CR301 Petition for Expungement - Mistaken Identity form. This petition form must be filed with the relevant court in the county of arrest or where the court records are located.
Do Sealed Records Show up In Missouri Background Checks?
No. Although Missouri does not have explicit laws for closing/sealing of criminal records, there are certain instances where, on an expungement order, the law specifies to close a criminal record rather than destroy it, as given by sections 610.120, 610.124, and 610.131, RSMo. When the court orders an expungement, all agencies holding the associated criminal record are ordered to close or destroy the record. Failure to obey an expungement order attracts legal consequences, as outlined in section 610.125, RSMo. This makes it almost impossible for these records to show up in background checks. As a result, individuals who have had their records expunged can legally respond in the negative to any inquiries about previous criminal convictions made by employers.
Who Can See Sealed Criminal Records in Missouri?
Access to closed/sealed criminal records in Missouri is limited. Generally, no one can access any expunged criminal record as these records are destroyed. However, records that have been closed can still be accessed by criminal justice agencies, law enforcement agencies, subjects of record, parties with a court order, department of health and senior services, federal agencies, and other parties listed under section 610.120, RSMo.
How to Obtain Sealed Records in Missouri
Once a record is closed/sealed in Missouri, it is inaccessible to the general public but is disseminated to certain approved individuals and agencies, as provided by the state’s expungement laws. Hence, there is little to no information on obtaining closed/sealed records in Missouri. Eligible parties may contact the relevant state agency for these records.