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S.Y. v. Askren

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, First Division

August 27, 2019

S.Y., Appellant,
v.
KENTON ASKREN, ET AL, Respondents.

          APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOPER COUNTY, MISSOURI THE HONORABLE ROBERT L. KOFFMAN, JUDGE

          Before: Cynthia L. Martin, Presiding Judge, Victor C. Howard, Judge and Alok Ahuja, Judge

          VICTOR C HOWARD, JUDGE

         S.Y. appeals from the circuit court's judgment denying his petition to expunge his 2003 conviction for unlawful use of drug paraphernalia. He argues that the circuit court erred in its application of section 610.140.5.[1] The judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded with directions.

         Background

         On January 23, 2018, S.Y. filed a petition in the Circuit Court of Cooper County seeking expungement of a conviction in Cooper County for unlawful use of drug paraphernalia, section 195.233, RSMo 2000, a class A misdemeanor. On March 4, 2003, S.Y. pled guilty to the offense, and a $50 fine was imposed, which he paid that day.

         The Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) filed an answer and a motion to dismiss. In its motion, the MSHP alleged that S.Y. was found guilty of class A misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, section 195.233, RSMo 2000, on May 23, 2003, in the Associate Division of the Johnson County Circuit Court. In that case, S.Y. pled guilty to the offense and received a suspended imposition of sentence with two years' probation, which he successfully completed in 2005. The MSHP argued that S.Y. failed to satisfy the criteria in section 610.140.5(2) for expungement of the Cooper County conviction because he had been found guilty of another misdemeanor during the three-year period after completion of the authorized disposition imposed for the conviction he sought to expunge. The trial court agreed and entered its judgment on November 30, 2018, granting the MSHP's motion to dismiss and denying the petition. This appeal by S.Y. followed.

         Standard of Review

         In this court-tried case, the judgment of the circuit court will be affirmed 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. W.C.H. v. State, 546 S.W.3d 612, 614 (Mo. App. E.D. 2018)(citing Murphy v. Carron, 536 S.W.2d 30, 32 (Mo. banc 1976)). The trial court's application of statutory requirements is a question of law rather than fact and is reviewed de novo. Id.

         Analysis

         In his sole point on appeal, S.Y. contends that the circuit court erred in its interpretation and application of the criteria in section 610.140.5, specifically the applicable time period in subsections (1) and (2). Those sections provide, in relevant part:

At any 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 seven years if the offense is a felony, or at least three years if the offense is a misdemeanor, municipal offense, or infraction, from the date the petitioner completed any authorized disposition imposed under section 557.011 for each offense, violation, or infraction listed in the petition;
(2) The person has not been found guilty of any other misdemeanor or felony, not including violations of the traffic regulations provided under chapters 304 and 307, during the time period specified for the underlying offense, ...

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