Missouri Shortens Waiting Periods and Restores Firearm Rights with New Expungement Legislation

New legislative changes effective August 28, 2021, shorten the required waiting period to file for an expungement. Combined Bills SB 53 and SB 60 bring about a bipartisan package of criminal justice changes, including the significant reduction of the waiting periods for a misdemeanor conviction to one year and a felony conviction to three years. Additionally, the law intends to expand the power of expungement to fully restore the civil rights and privileges for a recipient, including firearm rights. The bipartisan accomplishment to bring improved expungement relief sooner to deserving Missouirans is something to be excited about this summer and beyond.

Governor Mike Parsons signed the legislative package into law on July 14, 2021 after it passed in the state legislature on May 25, 2021 with bipartisan support. The legislation is a broad criminal justice reform bill, that includes a portion amending the Missouri expungement statute (610.140). Other elements of the legislative changes include a ban on the chokehold, an adjustment to the residency requirements of law enforcement officers, and changes to some juvenile justice practices.

Under prior expungement law, an eligible individual with a felony conviction would have to wait seven years before applying for an expungement. Now those applicants need only wait three years before applying for the benefits of expungement. And for those with a misdemeanor conviction, the waiting period has moved from three years to one year before applying for the benefits of expungement. Obtaining an expungement often means obtaining a better job or better housing for the affected party. An applicant with an expungement can generally treat the record as though it does not exist and can answer truthfully, with some specific exceptions, that they are not the subject of a criminal matter. This law means rehabilitated Missourians can obtain that good job sooner. They can obtain that good housing sooner. They can achieve a better life for themselves and their families much sooner than before.

Additionally, this law strengthens the language of rights relief, specifically restoration of firearm rights for expungement recipients. The aim of this type of language is so the federal government recognizes that someone’s full rights, including Second Amendment rights are restored. The old Missouri expungement language was insufficient to lift the federal ban on firearm rights for those with a firearm prohibiting conviction. SB 53 and SB 60 adds language that specifically states that intends to restore federal firearm rights following an expungement as it does for state firearm rights. In other words, the language has become more specific in order to secure the intended benefits of full civil rights restoration for those who receive an expungement.

Missouri’s expungement law changes signify the opportunity for individuals to seek relief from the stigma of a conviction much sooner than they could before, and for others it means fuller restoration of their civil rights including the opportunity to enjoy their Second Amendment rights. If you are someone who needs criminal record relief in Missouri, please give our team a call at (877) 573-7273. The reduced waiting periods may mean you are eligible now! Our online eligibility test can help you achieve that answer. The wait has shortened, time to achieve that better life now!

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