By Dan Viets
Senator Bob Dixon, Republican, of Springfield, has filed Senate Bill 451 which would allow for expungement of almost all marijuana convictions from all public records. This bill specifically authorizes one who has had his or her record expunged to deny that he or she was ever convicted.
There are several expungement bills pending in the Missouri General Assembly, but many believe Senator Dixon's bill is the one which is most likely to have a chance of passing this year.
This bill was drafted by a committee of the Missouri Bar Association on which I served. It has the support of the Missouri Bar Board of Governors, the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.
As with all legislation, it contains compromises. Class A felonies would not be eligible for expungement under this bill. Further, expunged convictions would still be able to be used to enhance future charges. Nonetheless, the primary disabilities which result from a criminal conviction: difficulty obtaining employment, renting a home, and obtaining loans, would be relieved by expungement under this legislation.
Almost all non-violent and non-sexual offenses, other than Class A convictions, will be eligible for expungement from all public records if this bill passes in its present form. Please contact your Missouri state Senator and Representative and urge them to give their support to Senate Bill 451.