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Senate gives nod to bill adding certain nonviolent offenses to potential expungement list

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Senate advanced legislation Thursday morning adding certain nonviolent offenses to the list of possible crimes that could be expunged from individuals’ records.

State Sen. Kiki Curls

SB 1, championed by Democratic Sen. Kiki Curls, adds property damage, stealing, and fraudulent use of a credit or debit card to the list of nonviolent offenses that could be expunged from someone’s record. It was perfected by the Senate Thursday. 

“Just to be able to give some relief to those who have made mistakes in the past, have paid their debt to society, have lived on the straight and narrow, and deserve a second chance,” Curls told reporters Thursday afternoon. “Over the past few years, we’ve tried to make significant revisions to the criminal code here in Missouri, and this is another attempt at that.”

“Folks sometimes make mistakes as teenagers, and by the time they reach 50 or 60 [years old], it becomes very difficult for them to obtain work, jobs, or other things they’re wanting to do to live a pretty fruitful and successful life,” she said.

During a hearing for a request for expungement, the court can consider if it’s been at least seven years if the offense was a felony or three years if it was a misdemeanor, municipal offense, or infraction, the bill states. Additionally, the court should note whether the person has been found guilty of other misdemeanors, the person’s conduct suggests he or she is a public safety threat, or if any additional charges are pending.

If a court determines the person meets all the criteria for expungement, it should issue an order of expungement or dismissal within six months of the petition filing, the legislation says.

Curls noted the expungement statute “has been a work in progress for the past couple of years.”

“Like many of the processes around here, you’ll have different interests,” Curls told The Missouri Times. “In terms of expungements, you have prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement, and just the general public that weighs in on those offenses they feel should be included currently in the statute for those folks who deserve second chances.”

“We’re just getting the word out about the ability and the opportunity for folks to have some of these,” she continued.

SB 1 will need to be third-read in the Senate before it heads to the House.