Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fourth Division
from the Circuit Court of St. Louis County Hon. Douglas R.
Van Amburg, Judge.
State appeals the circuit court's judgment
granting Respondent Tracy Perkins's petition for
expungement of her Forgery convictions. The State argues that
the circuit court erred because Section 610.140 RSMo Supp.
2013 does not authorize the expungement of Forgery
convictions. We reverse.
1991, Tracy Perkins ("Perkins") pled guilty to nine
counts of Forgery in violation of Section 570.090 RSMo, where
Perkins wrote checks in another person's name, without
that person's authorization, and knowing that the checks
were forged. Perkins successfully completed probation related
to those Forgery convictions over twenty years ago, owes no
restitution for her offenses, and has not been convicted of
any misdemeanors or felonies in the interim. Still, the
Forgery convictions remain on Perkins's criminal record.
December 30, 2016, Perkins filed a petition under Section
610.140 to expunge the records of her arrest, plea, and
convictions relating to the 1991 forgeries. The State opposed
Perkins's petition on the ground that Forgery is not an
offense that is eligible for expungement under
circuit court found that the facts underlying Perkins's
convictions could support a conviction for either Forgery
under Section 570.090 or Fraudulent Use of a Credit or Debit
Device under Section 570.130. The circuit court noted that a
conviction under Section 570.130 is eligible for expungement
per Section 610.140.2(1), while a conviction under Section
570.090 is not eligible. The circuit court looked past the
plain language of Section 610.140, reasoning that barring
expungement "because of the name of the offense versus
the underlying conduct" is illogical and absurd, and
against the intent of Section 610.140. The circuit court also
noted that expungement would be consistent with the public
welfare based on Perkins's current and continuing status
as a "contributing member of society."
reviewing a court-tried case, we affirm the judgment unless
there is no substantial evidence to support it, it is against
the weight of the evidence, or it erroneously declares or
applies the law. Doe v. Missouri State Highway Patrol
Criminal Records Repository, 474 S.W.3d 171, 174 (Mo.
App. E.D. 2015). Here, the circuit court's judgment is
based on its construction of Section 610.140. Because
statutory construction is purely a question a law subject to
independent de novo review, we give no deference to
the circuit court's determination of law. Martinez v.
State, 24 S.W.3d 10, 15 (Mo. App. E.D. 2000).
sole point on appeal, the State claims that the circuit court
erred in looking beyond the plain meaning of Section 610.140
to find that Perkins was entitled to expungement of the
records relating to her Forgery convictions.
conduct underlying Perkins's 1991 convictions could have
supported convictions for either Forgery or Fraudulent Use of
a Credit or Debit Device. Perkins claims that because her
underlying conduct in 1991 could have resulted in two
different outcomes - one in which her criminal record is
eligible for expungement and one where it is not - Section
610.140 leads to an illogical and absurd result. Therefore,
she asks us to look beyond the plain meaning of Section
parties and circuit court agree that Forgery records are not
eligible for expungement under Section 610.140. "The
primary rule of statutory interpretation is to effectuate
legislative intent through reference to the plain and
ordinary meaning of the statutory language." Lumetta
v. Sheriff of St. Charles Cty., 413 S.W.3d 718, 720 (Mo.
App. E.D. 2013). We will look beyond the plain meaning of the
statute only when the language is ambiguous or would lead to
an absurd or illogical result. Id.
language of a statute or ordinance leads to 'absurd or
illogical results' when there is a complete contradiction
in the language or when two statutory provisions cannot be
harmonized." City of Univ. City v. AT & T
Wireless Servs., 371 S.W.3d 14, 20 (Mo. App. E.D. 2012).
There is no disharmony in Section 610.140 that results from
the fact that Fraudulent Use of a Credit or Debit Device is
eligible for expungement while Forgery is not. The
legislature decided that Forgery is an offense for which
expungement shall not be available. The prosecution decided
to charge Perkins with Forgery and Forgery is the conviction
it obtained against Perkins in 1991. "[A] prosecutor has
broad discretion to determine when, if, and how criminal laws
are to be enforced, and  this decision is seldom subject to
judicial review." State v. Honeycutt, 96 S.W.3d
85, 89 (Mo. 2003). Just as we cannot ...