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Courts begin taking requests to expunge criminal records

Missouri courts have started accepting petitions to close criminal convictions.

The changes to the state’s expungement rules took effect on Jan. 1. People can file petitions at county courts to expunge certain misdemeanor and felony cases, so long as they completed the sentence.

The changes could affect hundreds of thousands of convictions throughout the state, and allow people a chance to change their lives, attorney Ben Faber told ABC 17 News. Faber said the law will allow for people with aging convictions to become employable.

“That person still carries the stigma to that felony offense. They’re disqualified from a lot of occupations because of that even through they’re a good person, a moral person, and a very talented person,” Faber said.

The new law comes with many caveats. Dozens of crimes cannot be expunged, including any crime related to a death, assault, intoxicated driving or harming children. Any crime requiring someone to register as a sex offender cannot be expunged.

That list also includes any stealing conviction or forgery. Faber said those can often be as simple as a minor shoplifting offense that lingers on people’s record for years.

“You may find that that offense is following you around on job applications,” Faber said. “Well, unfortunately for you, that offense is not expungeable under the current law. As a defense bar, we are hoping that the law is going to be amended or changed in the coming years to allow for people who have stealing convictions to move on without that conviction.”

Faber said the law would also allow people with an expunged felony to own and carry a firearm once more. However, expunged crimes must be disclosed when applying for a concealed carry permit, or other job license.

Boone County court officials told ABC 17 News that they are randomly assigning judges to petitions filed. The new rules will be discussed at a court en banc meeting on Jan. 30.

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