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Governor signs bar-drafted, criminal-record-sealing bill into law

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon today signed into law Senate Bill 588—legislation that will make it easier for rehabilitated, former offenders to petition the court to close criminal records to the public. Supporters believe the update will help convicted individuals who have completed their sentence  get jobs. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, was drafted by The Missouri Bar and was passed with bipartisan support by the Missouri Legislature in May.

Under the new law, a judge can grant a petition to seal an individual’s criminal records if the petitioner has an eligible offense, has not been found guilty of another offense, has no pending charges, has met all the conditions of his or her sentence, and if the prosecutor does not object within 30 days of the petition being filed. The measure allows a criminal record to be sealed seven years after a felony conviction and three years after a misdemeanor offense. The change reduces the amount of time someone has to wait to petition from 20 years for felonies and 10 years for misdemeanors.

To protect public safety, the measure is only available to those convicted of nonviolent, low-level offenses who have not reoffended.

“Missourians who have paid their debt to society and become law-abiding citizens deserve a chance to get a job and support their families,” Nixon said in an official release. “This bill represents a reasonable, balanced approach and I’m pleased to sign it into law today.”

Erik Bergmanis, 2015-16 president of The Missouri Bar, was glad to receive word that the governor has signed the bill into law. “This bill helps those who’ve made mistakes get back on track,” Bergmanis said.

The governor also announced today the signing of six additional bills, several of which impact the legal field. See the full press release here.

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