Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fourth Division
from the Circuit Court of St. Louis County Cause No.
16SL-CC03803 Honorable Douglas R. Beach
COLLEEN DOLAN, P.JUDGE.
("Petitioner") filed an amended petition under
§ 610.140 on April 12, 2017, seeking to expunge his
conviction for the felony offense of passing a bad check
under § 570.120. The trial court found Petitioner was
entitled to expungement under § 610.140. Regarding the
felony offense of passing a bad check, Petitioner was
convicted on April 1, 1986. Petitioner received a suspended
execution of sentence and five years' probation for the
felony offense, which he completed in April of 1991.
Approximately six months after that conviction, on October
15, 1986, Petitioner was convicted of the misdemeanor offense
of driving while intoxicated. Thus, Petitioner's
conviction of driving while intoxicated occurred after his
felony conviction for passing a bad check but before his
probationary period was completed. By its plain language, we
find that § 610.140.5(2) only prohibits expungement of a
felony when a person has been found guilty of a misdemeanor
or felony after a petitioner completed his sentence
of imprisonment or any period of probation or parole. Thus,
Petitioner's misdemeanor driving while intoxicated
conviction, which preceded his completion of his probationary
period, did not bar him from seeking expungement of his
felony conviction for passing a bad check.
§ 610.140.5(1), the court may not grant an expungement
request until twenty years has passed since Petitioner
completed his probation for the felony offense. Consequently,
Petitioner was prevented from seeking expungement until 2011.
Petitioner filed an amended petition seeking expungement of
his conviction for passing a bad check on April 12, 2017. The
trial court entered a judgment in favor of Petitioner.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Criminal Records Repository and
the Office of the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney
("Appellants") have appealed this judgment,
contending that Petitioner has failed to satisfy the
requirements of § 610.140.5. Finding Petitioner has
complied with all the requirements of § 610.140.5, we
affirm the judgment of the trial court.
is a court-tried case, our review is governed by Murphy
v. Carron, 536 S.W.2d 30, 32 (Mo. banc 1976).
Accordingly, we will affirm the trial court's judgment
unless there is no substantial evidence to support it, it is
against the weight of the evidence, it erroneously declares
the law, or it erroneously applies the law. Id.
"The trial court's application of statutory
requirements is a question of law rather than fact;
therefore, we review the trial court's application of
statutory requirements de novo." Doe v. St.
Louis County Police Dep't, 505 S.W.3d 450, 453 (Mo.
App. E.D. 2016).
facts in this case are undisputed. The sole issue presented
is a matter of statutory interpretation. The primary rule of
statutory interpretation is to effectuate the General
Assembly's intent. Bateman v. Rinehart, 391
S.W.3d 441, 446 (Mo. banc 2013). "If the words are
clear, the [c]ourt must apply the plain meaning of the
law" and refrain from using canons of statutory
construction. State v. Bazell, 497 S.W.3d 263, 266
(Mo. banc 2016), as modified, (Sept. 20, 2016).
argue that the trial court erred in granting Petitioner's
request for expungement because, in less than a year after
his conviction for passing a bad check, he was convicted for
driving while intoxicated, thereby barring him from having
his conviction for passing a bad check expunged under §
610.140.5. We disagree with Appellants' reading of the
statute. Section 610.140.6 allows for the trial court to
grant expungement if, after holding a hearing, the court
determines that the petitioner "meets all the criteria
set forth in subsection 5 of this section." Appellants
do not argue that Petitioner has failed to meet the
requirements listed in subsections (3), (4), or (5). Thus,
only the requirements noted in subsections (1) and (2) are in
relevant portion of § 610.140.5 reads:
The court may set a hearing on the matter no sooner than
thirty days from the filing of the petition and shall give
reasonable notice of the hearing to each entity named in the
petition. At the hearing, the court may accept evidence and
hear testimony on, and may consider, the following criteria
for each of the offenses, violations, or infractions listed
in the petition for expungement:
(1) It has been at least twenty years if the offense is a
felony, or at least ten years if the offense is a
misdemeanor, municipal offense, or infraction, since the
person making the application completed:
(a) Any sentence of imprisonment; or
(b) Any period of probation or ...