How to Obtain Expungement of Arrest Records in Missouri

by Mary Hodges

Missouri law sets forth specific requirements that must be met before an individual can obtain expungement of his or her arrest records. Section 610.122 of the Missouri Revised Statutes requires an individual to prove the following elements: (1) the arrest was based on false information; (2) there was no probable cause, at the time of the action to expunge, to believe the petitioner committed the offense; (3) no charges will be pursued as a result of the arrest; (4) the petitioner has no prior or subsequent convictions; (5) the petitioner did not receive a suspended imposition of sentence for an offense related to the arrest; and (6) no civil action is pending relating to the arrest of the records sought to be expunged. Colemen v. Missouri State Criminal Records Repository, 268 S.W.3d 464, 466 (Mo. App. E.D. 2008).

The first two elements of RSMO § 610.122 require the petitioner to show that his arrest was based upon false information and that no probable cause exists to believe that the petitioner committed the crime for which he was arrested. See In re Dyer, 163 S.W.3d 915, 918-19 (Mo. banc 2005). “To establish that the arrest was based upon ‘false information’ the petitioner in most cases must prove that the alleged victim – who knew applicant and on whose accusation his arrest was based – had falsely accused the petitioner.” Id. at 918 ((citing Martinez v. State, 24 S.W.3d 10, 20 (Mo. Ct. App. E.D. 2000)). In all cases, the petitioner must prove that some or all of the information upon which the police relied to arrest the petitioner is simply a lie. Id. at 918-19.

“Probable cause” as used in the expungement statute is different than what is required to justify an arrest. Id. at 919. “Probable cause” for expungement purposes means “‘having more evidence for than against’ and… facts which would cause a reasonably intelligent and prudent person to believe ‘that the accused person had committed the crime charged.’” Id. at 919 (citing Martinez, 24 S.W.3d at 20).

Another important caveat of Missouri’s expungement law is found in Section 610.126(3) which provides, “The petitioner shall not bring any action subsequent to the expungement against any person or agency relating to the arrest described in the expunged records.” Thus, if you believe you may have a cause of action against the arresting agency or even the person that made false accusations against you that resulted in your arrest, then you must wait to obtain expungement until the conclusion of that civil case. If obtaining civil relief for an arrest is important to you, then it is imperative that you pursue such relief before you seek expungement of your arrest records.

For additional information on obtaining expungement of your arrest records, contact the attorneys at Cosgrove Law Group, LLC.