Expunging OLD Criminal (Felony) Records

I have a distant relation whose father was convicted of grand theft (a felony) and served in a Missouri prison for about 2.5 years back in the late 1950s. From what I can gather, he had committed several such thefts and was eventually caught and arrested.

From his release until his death in the mid 1980s, he led an exemplary life. His son today is interested in getting his father’s criminal record expunged. This son told me he contacted an attorney about this matter some 15-20 years ago and after much legal footwork and appeals, the lawyer returned to tell him the records could not be expunged.

I’m now wondering if, with the passage of more time and perhaps the liberalization of laws, whether expungement might today be possible.

Would it help to approach Missouri’s governor, or a senator? Is there really nothing that can be done to expunge an almost 50-year-old felony record?

Also these qeustions:

Could the records be sealed? Is that the same as expungement?

Are presidential pardons granted in such cases?

According to this site , it may not be possible.

IANAL, but I would imagine that a conviction for grand theft would come under the general heading of “Capital felony; Felony 1; Forcible felony 2”.

You have to check with your local court. They should have (hopefully) an expungement help desk or somesuch that will guide you through the process. Expungement and sealing are two different things. Expunged records are destroyed. Sealed records are kept from the public, but not destroyed.

I’m not an expert on this, but I have done several expungements for people in the past (I used to work in a law office, and I’ve helped relatives file pro se expungements to destroy records of not guilty verdicts.) Under Illinois law, the only way I could see your relative’s records expunged is through a governor’s pardon.

I would research your local laws and see what they say. I’ve never dealt with expunging a deceased person’s records, so it’s possible I’m missing some law that deals with this case.

Missouri law seems to suggest you’re SOL, according to this site.

Every other site I’ve seen so far seems to agree; looks like Missouri’s got stricter rules on what can be expunged than Illinois.

If it’s a class 2 felony, chances are it will never happen. That is unless you get the Governer to give him a full pardon. Write to the Governer’s office.

Probably not.


I’d say go with the advice of a lawyer who is licensed in the relevant state. My (quick and dirty) research confirms what the lawyer supposedly said.

If you want to see if you can get some free legal advice from a lawyer in the appropriate jurisdiction, you should try http://www.lawguru.com/cgi/bbs/ . For instance, I searched their database of questions and answers and found this http://www.lawguru.com/cgi/bbs/mesg.cgi?i=137286061 (no equitable expungement in MO; expungement only possible if conviction wrongful).

From what I have seen of the cases, statutes, and comments, it appears that under very limited circumstances, one can get arrest records expunged if no case was pursued, and conviction records expunged only if the conviction was wrongful.

*E.g., * http://www.moga.mo.gov/statutes/C600-699/6100000122.HTM (providing for expungement of arrest record).

If you are serious about pursuing this, it’s probably time to talk to a real lawyer in Missouri. You can hook up with a lawyer on lawguru, or start looking here: http://www.mobar.org/fa9a5c63-a2c3-4c6e-a86a-de191b13e501.aspx

Good luck.

I am not your lawyer; you are not my client; this is not legal advice. Contact a lawyer licensed to practice in the appropriate jurisdiction for legal advice. Never rely on legal advice given anonymously on a message board.

Mind telling me why? If there was some claim of innocence, I could understand it. But if he was guilty, what difference would it make after all this time?

His son would like to clear his father’s name. From everything I’ve heard from family members, the man’s father led an honorable life after release from prison. Before his arrest, he was a veteran who distinguished himself on the battlefield. His wayward behavior was an aberration and the son doesn’t want the man remembered as a felon.

Also, the son is contemplating a job with the federal government and doesn’t want the routine security clearance process to bring this issue to the fore, nearly 50 years after it happened.

Would a routine security sweep even include a 50 year old felony record by a relative? I think the son is being a bit paranoid.

Tell your friend that he can remember his father any way he wants to. If he wants to remember his father as a thief, or as an honourable man, that’s up to him. Other people will also think what they want to. Getting the records expunged won’t change that.

I’m not sure what the security implications could be for a felony conviction of a dead distant relative anyway.

I’m also not sure that expungements are granted poshumously. Adjudications of actual innocence, yes; but expungements, why? You aren’t clearing anyone’s name with an expungement; you are just hiding the record.

As I understand it, part of the screening for a security clearance is based as much on how you answer questions about your past as it is on what’s actually in your past. In the event that this even comes up in his interviews or the forms he has to fill out, he had better not lie about it. If one of the questions was, “Have any of the members of your family ever been convicted of a crime?” he should probably answer yes, give the circumstances and timeline, and not really worry about it. I highly doubt that something like that would even come up though.