Few criminals could clear record with new law

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - A new Missouri statute says criminals can clear a crime off their record.

Criminals can do so 10 years after a misdemeanor, and 20 years after a felony, if they've served their time, and haven't committed a crime since then.

"Of all the people that I represent, 9 out of 10 of them are very good people," said Defense Attorney Malcolm Montgomery. "They make mistakes, we all make mistakes."

Montgomery said he likes the idea of clearing the a criminal record.

"I have an awful lot of clients that call me probably on a weekly basis and they cannot get jobs, the reason being is that employers say we'd like to hire you but hey we have certain policy," said Montgomery.

But Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney Russ Oliver said he needs that information.

"As a persecutor I'm in favor of more information of peoples past because I rely on criminal history heavily," said Oliver.

But it might not matter what anyone thinks, because they both said it only applies to a limited number of people.

"Very few people go 20 years without so much as a speeding ticket," said Oliver.

"It refers to a few crimes but negligible crimes that don't cover most of the individuals that I represent, or anyone represents," said Montgomery.

Criminals are eligible if they've committed a misdemeanor or felony of the following crimes: Passing a bad check, fraudulently stopping payment or fraudulently using credit device, negligent burning, tampering, property damage, trespassing, gambling, peace disturbance, and drunkenness.

"This legislation pertains mostly to misdemeanors; you don't lose firearm right because of misdemeanors to begin with," said Montgomery.

Missouri Senator Brad Lager has said the legislation was designed as an effort to help people regain firearms right.

"I question whether there's some legislator possibly that has a relative or cousin or spouse that did have a felony as a result they enacted this legislation to possibly get gun rights back to that particular individual, but it's not going to cover particularly anyone at all," Montgomery.

Oliver said he thinks it's a case by case issue, and something a judge should decide.

"There are varying degrees of folks that have these types of records maybe the person who has one prior should have his expunged if he hasn't done anything in 20 year but the person who has 5, 6 stealing of a credit device fraudulent use of a credit device if you have multiple of those that might be a problem where a judge should have discretion," said Oliver.

You can read the new statute here.

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