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Combs Law Group
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A highly personable St. Louis Criminal Defense Attorney who wants to be your St. Louis criminal defense, personal injury, and DWI lawyer.
A highly personable St. Louis Criminal Defense Attorney who wants to be your St. Louis criminal defense, personal injury, and DWI lawyer.

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UNPACKING THE 2018 MISSOURI EXPUNGEMENT LAW: SENATE BILL 588
There are far reaching effects of a felony on a person’s life. After their incarceration is over they have to try and re-enter society, but their conviction status will make that a serious challenge. Felons lose some of their civil rights, like the right to vote, hold public office, serve on a jury or own firearms because crimes against individuals are essentially crimes against society. They have to undergo a long process to prove themselves worthy of being a citizen again and worthy of having their rights restored.

They encounter difficulty in getting jobs because any background check will reveal their conviction and many employees won’t hire felons fearing that they are dishonest and might commit a crime at work. They might lose a professional license or permit that they had in line with their work before they were incarcerated, and it might be difficult to regain it when they re-enter society. For example, if you have a felony DWI or DUI you will will not be able to get employment in professions like teaching, nursing, as a truck driver, police officer, firefighter etc. where a CDL license is required.

Another area that affects felons, is securing housing. Many housing sources refuse to let felons rent as they are perceived to be a security threat. Felons might not be able to secure federal assistance for food stamp programs or get loans or grants to pursue higher education. Travelling outside of the U.S. might also be a major problem as some countries have strict rules regarding convicted felons entering their borders. These factors can create negative outcomes for felons who are unable to move forward in their lives after a conviction.

THE ROAD TO SENATE BILL 588 ADOPTION
The 2018 Missouri Expungement Law brings some welcome relief to felons wanting to change their lives by becoming productive members of society. On July 13, 2016 the Missouri Expungement Bill (SB 588) received bipartisan support in the Missouri General Assembly and was signed by Governor Jay Nixon. It was sponsored by Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield and the bill’s amendments to state law help non-chronic offenders to have their records wiped clean. The bill came into effect on January 1, 2018 causing a surge of thousands of individuals to seek having their records expunged.

THE 13 OFFENSE EXPUNGEMENT BILL OF THE PAST
For the past four decades there has been little relief for felons seeking to have their criminal convictions expunged in Missouri. Attorney’s frequently receive high volumes of requests for assistance in this regard as individuals seek to restore a sense of dignity or self worth – but there has been little we could do to offer legal support in the past. The previous expungement law only included 13 misdemeanor offenses that could be wiped from a criminal record – including passing bad checks, negligent burning or exploding, tampering, private peace disturbance, gambling, first-degree trespass, being drunk in church etc. First time DWI convictions along with B and C misdemeanors could qualify to be expunged in the past, but only after 10- years of good behavior!

THE NEW LAW
With the 2018 Missouri Expungement Law, a process has been created where around 1,900 eligible offenses can be sealed. Some individuals with misdemeanor convictions can file petitions after three years and those with felonies, after seven years. That waiting time used to be 10 and 20 years respectively. This law opens the door for thousands of offenders to petition the courts to seal or remove their records of arrests and convictions as of January 1, 2018. After a successful petition those with no other criminal record, will be able to honestly answer “no” to inquiries about whether they have a criminal record (Unless a specific employer is required by law to exclude certain applicants).

“We see this as giving people a second chance” and “giving that to as many people as possible,” said Farrah Fite, spokeswoman for the Missouri Bar.

THE PETITION PROCESS
For individuals who are eligible to start their petition process they have to file them in the court where they were charged or found guilty of the crime (offenses, violations, infractions). The petition must include all names of municipal prosecuting attorneys, law enforcement agencies, courts, state repositories of criminal records – basically any entity that might possess records of the items they wish to have expunged. They must also list every offense they wish to have expunged.

The state will then have 30-days to file objections to the petition you have filed. If there is an objection the court must hold a hearing within 60-days, or 30-days if there is no objection. While the 3 and 7 year waiting period has been stated, the bill does not explicitly demand this, so there might be avenues open for an earlier expungement date. The individual will also have to show the court that their habits and personal conduct, since their release, make them a good candidate for expungement. This is the key element to the success of their petition.
The petition process can take as little as 120-days resulting in a removal of their criminal record from potential landlords, employers and financial institution immediately.

There are of course convictions that cannot be expunged and they include (see full list at the end of the article):

Class A felony offenses
Dangerous felonies as defined in section 556.061 of Missouri statutes
Any offense that required registration as a sex offender
Any felony where death is an element I the offense
Any felony offense of assault
Any misdemeanor or felony of domestic assault
Any felony or offense of kidnapping
Intoxication-related offenses
Violation of laws regulating operation of a commercial motor vehicle
There is an application fee of $250, but if the person is indigent or has no means of income this fee can be waived. Petition forms are currently available at all courthouses in Missouri.

HOW SENATE BILL 588 COULD AFFECT OTHER MISSOURI LAWS
The new bill could effect the expungement of arrest records. Section 610.122 of the Missouri Statutes currently allows expungement of these, if the arrest was based on false information, there was no probable cause to believe the individual committed the offense, no charges were pursued and the subject did not receive a suspended imposition or sentence. With Senate Bill 588 convictions can be expunged, which seems that the qualifying list of arrests might also be expunged in time. The Missouri Legislature will probably need to expand the current list of arrest records that can be expunged so it is more in line with Senate Bill 588.

THE IMPACT OF SENATE BILL 588 ON UNEMPLOYMENT RATES
Beyond the Conviction Building Brighter Futures, a nonprofit, says that the sealing of old criminal records will help ex-cons with finding housing and jobs. These are two of the biggest barriers, for individuals with criminal records, to build a new life for themselves after incarceration.
“We might drop down to two percent unemployment rate because there’s jobs out there,” said York Wilson with BTC Building Brighter Futures. “It’s just the fact of people having records or having things to hinder them, that they won’t be able to get the job. So people will be more employable, and it’ll be better for the community.”
When former felons can find work the chances of them falling back into crime drops dramatically, and they also do not have to rely on social services to stay afloat.

HOW WE CAN ASSIST YOU
Our attorneys have been studying this new law to bring the best possible outcomes for our clients as there are still many impediments to expungement in Senate Bill 588. For individuals with convictions of crimes against property or for drug crimes there is relief on the horizon with the 2018 Missouri Expungement Law. Give us a call so we can explain the petition process to you and help you to start a new life without the burden of a criminal record. We’re here and we’re listening. Here is the full list of felony convictions that CANNOT BE expunged:

Any class A felony
Any offense that requires registration as a sex offender
Any felony where death is an element of the offense
Any felony assault
Any domestic assault
Any felony kidnapping
Any ordinance violation equivalent to an ineligible offense
Any motor vehicle offense or violation when the individual has a CDL
556.061: Any dangerous felony
Ch. 566: Any offense listed in chapter 566 (sex offenses)
Ch. 577: Any intoxication-related traffic, boating or aircraft offense
105.454: Additional prohibited acts by certain public officials and employees
105.478: Violation of lobbying and conflict of interest laws
115.631: Class one election offenses
130.028: Discrimination or intimidation related to elections
188.030: Abortion of viable unborn child
188.080: Abortion performed by other than a physician with hospital privileges
191.677: Prohibited acts related to HIV
194.425: Abandonment of a corpse without notifying authorities
217.385: Violence or injury to property or others in the DOC
334.245: Abortions performed by someone other than a licensed physician
375.991: Fraudulent insurance act
389.653: Trespass to railroad property
455.085: Violation of protection order
455.538: Violation of protection order
557.035: Hate offenses
574.140: Cross burning
565.120: Kidnapping, 2nd degree
565.130: Kidnapping, 3rd degree
565.156: Child abduction
568.020: Incest
568.030: Abandonment of a child, 1st degree
568.032: Abandonment of a child, 2nd degree
568.045: Endangering the welfare of a child, 1st degree
568.060: Abuse or neglect of a child
568.065: Female genital mutilation
573.200: Child used in sexual performance
573.205: Promoting sexual performance by child
568.175: Trafficking in children
569.040: Arson, 1st degree
569.050: Arson, 2nd degree
569.055: Knowingly burning or exploding
569.060: Reckless burning or exploding
569.065: Negligent burning or exploding
569.100: Property damage, 1st degree
569.160: Burglary, 1st degree
570.025: Robbery, 2nd degree
570.030: Stealing
570.090: Forgery
570.100: Possession of a forging instrument
570.130: Fraudulent use of a credit or debit device
570.180: Defrauding secured creditors
570.223: Identity theft
570.224: Trafficking in stolen identities
570.310: Mortgage fraud
571.020: Possession, manufacture, transport, repair or sale of certain weapons
571.030: Unlawful use of weapons
571.060: Unlawful transfer of weapons
571.063: Fraudulent purchase of firearm
571.070: Possession of firearm for certain persons
571.072: Unlawful possession of an explosive weapon
571.150: Use or possession of a metal penetrating bullet in a crime
574.070: Promoting civil disorder, 1st degree
574.105: Money laundering
574.115: Making a terrorist threat, 1st degree
574.120: Making a terrorist threat, 2nd degree
574.130: Agro-terrorism
575.040: Perjury
575.095: Tampering with a judicial officer
575.153: Disarming a police or correctional officer
575.155: Endangering a corrections employee
575.157: Endangering a mental health employee, visitor or other offender
575.159: Aiding a sexual offender
575.195: Escape from commitment, detention or conditional release
575.200: Escape or attempted escape from custody
575.210: Escape or attempted escape from confinement
575.220: Failure to return to confinement
575.230: Aiding escape of prisoner
575.240: Permitting escape
575.353: Assault on a police animal
577.078: Water contamination
577.703: Bus hijacking or attempt to hijack a bus
577.706: Planting a bomb in or near a bus terminal
632.520: Offender committing violence against an employee
If you or someone you know is a convicted felony crime that’s not on this list and your looking for an Missouri expungement attorney, please contact Combs Law Group today. Hiring a felony expungement lawyer can streamline the process for you, so that you avoid all the red tape involved with the state of Missouri court system. Check out our Felony Expungement services here for more information.
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WHAT IS AN SIS OR SUSPENDED IMPOSITION OF SENTENCE
Having worked hundreds of criminal defense cases in St. Louis, Combs Law Group has faced this exact question (what is an SIS?) from a considerable amount of our clients. It’s a common question because in many of our cases we encounter SIS as the final outcome for the client. The state of Missouri and it’s courts utilize SIS protocol to gain a guilty plea from a defendant in exchange for avoiding a conviction and subsequently place that defendant on probation for a specific term. Therefore, an SIS in MO is a particular type of probation the courts will impose for the defendant. The exact meaning of SIS is “Suspended Imposition of Sentence” and it indicates that no sentence is defined at the time the probation is set. The courts, however, will retain the right to impose a sentence if/when the client causes their probation to be revoked. The actual sentence can be anywhere within the statutory range for that particular felony or misdemeanor conviction. Essentially what it means is that the courts will opt to place you on probation instead of sentencing you for your crimes, setting the imposition of the case aside until probation is completed. This gives the defendant the chance to show the courts that he or she is capable of maintaining a clean criminal record throughout the probation period. For an SIS probation the defendant has the opportunity to avoid any conviction by successfully completing the probation. This occurs when the probation stipulations are met and the case becomes close record in the State under the Missouri Sunshine Law. That means that the conviction will not show up on your criminal record and you could truthfully say that you do not have a conviction on your employment applications. The one exception to that is the arrest will show up for any others subsequent criminal charges and can be used against you in those proceedings.

WHAT IS AN SES OR SUSPENDED EXECUTION OF SENTENCE
Again, this is a question we are consistently having to answer with our clients. It’s less common than an SIS in the cases we’ve handled primarily because we fight hard to get our clients an SIS. An SES is a “Suspended Execution of Sentence” and it’s similar to an SIS in the sense that you are given probation instead of jail time. However, with an SES in MO, the courts will specify a specific sentence at the time of conviction and then suspend that sentence. So even if you walk through your probation without any issues and complete it successfully, the conviction will still show up on your record. That’s a big difference in terms of the long term impact on a defendants life. That’s why it’s critical you work with a reputable St. Louis criminal defense attorney like Combs Law Group. Sometimes it’s very hard to get the courts to opt for the SIS over the SES, and it typically depends on your criminal background, the evidence of the case, relationship with prosecutors, etc. However, there are legal tactics we employ with our clients that look to preempt the courts before the determination is made on an SIS vs SES.

FACTORS IN OBTAINING AN SIS VERSUS SES
In most criminal cases the decision as to whether a client gets an SIS versus SES is usually determined by the advocacy of the attorney you choose and how hard they fight the case. Therefore, it’s critical to work with an attorney who can develop a strong case for you to present to the Prosecutor. Without an attorney, you’re left trying to make your case yourself and that’s difficult for anyone who doesn’t know the rules and guidelines of the law, furthermore, prosecutors are more inclined to work with an attorney as opposed to a pro se or self-represented client. Working with a top criminal defense lawyer like Combs Law Group can be the difference in whether you receive an SIS or an SES from your charges. Furthermore, in some cases an SES is actually a good outcome for some of our clients. Read on to find out how we’ve utilized SIS probation and SES probation in recent cases we’ve handled for our clients.

SIS DWI CASE STORY
Again, at Combs Law Group we deal with SIS and SES probations on a regular basis. For our clients we are constantly looking for ways to impress on the Prosecution that the people we represent are good people who made bad decisions. It is our job to put a face to your file and advocate strongly for you. Most of our clients are normally law abiding, tax paying citizens. They just happened to get caught up in a bad situation where they made a bad decision and the law caught up with them the one time they happened to break the law. When this is the case we look to get these clients an SIS and it’s typically a good option for both the client, Prosecutor, and the Judge. However, in some cases where the client has a criminal record we have to fight hard to obtain an SIS. It’s not always possible, but recently we were able to successfully garner an SIS on a client who had a recently been charged with his 3rd DWI. Now anyone who knows DWI laws in Missouri know that over the past 15 years the DWI penalties have increasingly become more severe. And you can argue that in some cases they are too harsh. However, the law is what it is and as criminal defense law firm, we have a moral and ethical responsibility and pride ourselves in getting our clients the best outcomes possible for their case.

In this particular case the client had been pulled over in a local St. Louis municipality after leaving from a restaurant and bar. He was mixing medication with alcohol and the combination caused him to pass out at a stop light whereupon a local police officer pulled up to investigate. The client agreed to a field sobriety test and a breathalyzer test, which he failed, and was charged with a DWI. So although the BAC levels where only .09, the circumstances of the arrest weren’t looking good for the client.

When this client came to Combs Law Group we evaluated his case and made a determination that it would be a long shot to get him an SIS. This was his 3rd DWI and in most St. Louis jurisdictions, a 3rd DWI meant an SIS was not going to happen. However, as we started to look at the mitigating circumstances of the client and case we started to see a pathway to making a case to the Prosecutor for an SIS. Ultimately, the client was handed an SIS with probation terms of 2 years, which was a very good outcome for everyone involved. This was a client who was able to show the courts that he was dealing with his alcohol problem.

SES DWI CASE STORY
Now in some cases an SES probation, or Suspended Execution of Sentence, is a good outcome for clients with more extensive criminal records. A recent case we handled is a good example of this and we want to outline how the case was handled. The client had a criminal history of being caught up in a drug conspiracy in his late teens and served a considerable amount of time in Federal Prison, a case that Combs Law Group did not represent him on. Therefore, he was already a convicted felon and was charged with Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a felon. The initial plea offer from the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office was 5 years incarceration in the Missouri Department of Corrections. However, after long and strenuous negotiations, Combs Law Group was able to secure a 5 year SES with 60 days house arrest. In this case, an SIS was not an option as gun crimes have become more common in St. Louis and the Courts are cracking down. In this instance, a felony conviction did not matter to the client as he was already a convicted felon. The goal in this case was to avoid jail time and an SES was able to offer that result, to which the client was very happy.

There are many factors that go into whether or not an SIS can be obtained over an SES, such as; the client’s criminal history, the facts of the case, the evidence, etc. However, with the right St. Louis criminal defense lawyer at your side you might improve your chances of receiving probation versus jail time and avoid a felony conviction. Combs Law Group is proud of the fact that we fight diligently and hard for an SIS whenever it is a possibility and in cases where the client has an extensive record we will fight just as hard for an SES.

If you’re currently facing a criminal charge in St. Louis, Missouri and you want to work with a reputable criminal lawyer in St. Louis. Call Combs Law Group today for a free case evaluation at 314-578-1465.

VIOLATING SIS & SES PROBATION
Just a real quick comment on SES probation violations and SIS probation violations. In both cases, if you violate your probation by not meeting the stipulated terms you’re going to find yourself in trouble. Unfortunately, this occurs with some of our clients and we find ourselves going back to the drawing board. In our next post we’re going to cover Probation Violations and what to do when the courts or your probation/parole officer violates your probation. If this has just happened to you, call Combs Law Group, one of the best probation lawyers in St. Louis. Once your probation has been violated, you will have a probation violation hearing and will definitely want representation at that hearing. Check out our legal services for St. Louis Mo probation violations.
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