Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, Second Division
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF JASPER COUNTY Honorable Judge David
W. SHEFFIELD, J.
State of Missouri (Criminal Records Repository of the
Missouri State Highway Patrol) ("State") appeals
the three judgments expunging criminal records of L.F.W., Jr.
("L.W."). The State argues L.W.'s records were
ineligible for expungement pursuant to section 610.140
because: (1) his arrest involved a violation of state law
regulating the operation of a motor vehicle and L.W. had been
issued a commercial driver's license ("CDL");
and (2) his petitions for expungement were filed
prematurely.We agree, and reverse.
and Procedural History
March 28, 2016, L.W. was operating a commercial motor vehicle
when he was issued three citations by the Missouri State
Highway Patrol. The first citation ("Case 1")
listed the offense as "[f]ailed to register nonresident
commercial motor vehicle - reciprocal agreement: NO
temporary" in violation of section 301.277. L.W. was
arrested and fingerprinted in connection with the Case 1
citation. The second citation ("Case 2")
listed the offense as "operating commercial motor
vehicle without [a] seatbelt" in violation of section
307.400. The third citation ("Case 3") listed the
offense as "[o]perat[ing] as an [i]nter-state motor fuel
user without being licensed as such" in violation of
section 142.830. On all three citations, in the space where
L.W.'s driver's license number was listed, the box
was checked "yes" under the "CDL"
heading. Case 1 was later dismissed. The original charges in
Cases 2 and 3 were later amended, and L.W. ultimately pled
guilty to driving without a seatbelt (Case 2) and a defective
equipment infraction (Case 3).
February 13, 2018, L.W. filed three amended expungement
petitions with attached exhibits, including the original
related citation in each case. In the first petition (Case
1), the "dismissed" case, he sought expungement of
records related to "failure to register." In the
second petition (Case 2), he sought expungement of records
related to a plea of guilty to "operating w/o
seatbelt." In the third petition (Case 3), he sought
expungement of records related to a plea of guilty to
trial court held a hearing on May 24, 2018. At the hearing,
no witnesses testified but the State's attorney argued
that the filing was premature as three years had not passed.
The court took the case based on the "verified
petitions" and orally granted expungement on all three
cases. On June 4, 2018, the court entered its written
"Order of Expungement" in each of the three cases
granting expungement of L.W.'s criminal records.
3, 2018, the State filed motions on each case to reconsider
the court's expungement orders. In these motions, the
State alleged L.W. "possessed, or was required to
possess a [CDL]" at the time of his arrest or when he
committed the offense, therefore L.W. was "not eligible
for expungement[.]" The court made no ruling on the
motions to reconsider. On November 19, 2018, the court filed
three "Judgment[s]" of expungement. The State timely
appealed, and the three appeals were consolidated by order of
court-tried case, the standard of review is governed by
Murphy v. Carron. 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)); R.G. v.
Missouri State Hwy. Patrol, 580 S.W.3d 38, 40 (Mo. App.
W.D. 2019). The trial court's judgment will be affirmed
"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."
W.C.H., 546 S.W.3d at 614. The application of
statutory requirements is a question of law, not fact, and
will be reviewed de novo. Id.
State raises two points on appeal: 1) that the trial court
erred in ordering expungement because L.W. had been issued a
CDL and was not eligible to have his records expunged as the
offenses involved the regulation of motor vehicles; and 2)
that L.W.'s petitions were filed
prematurely. With respect to Case 1, the State's
point regarding the CDL has merit. With respect to Case 2 and
Case 3, the State's point regarding the time requirements
for filing a petition for expungement has merit.
610.140 states any person "may apply to any court in
which such person was charged or found guilty of any
offenses, violations, or infractions for an order to expunge
records of such arrest, plea, trial, or conviction."
§ 610.140.1. Not all offenses are eligible for
expungement, however, because section 610.140.2 "sets
forth a list of ten categories of offenses, violations, and
infractions" ineligible for expungement. R.H.
v. Missouri State Hwy. Patrol Crim. Records
Repository, 578 S.W.3d 398 (Mo. App. E.D. 2019). Section
2. The following offenses, violations, and infractions shall
not be eligible for expungement under this section:
. . . .
(10) Any violations of any state law or county or municipal
ordinance regulating the operation of motor vehicles when
committed by an individual who has been issued a [CDL] or is
required to possess a [CDL] issued by this state or any other
§§ 610.140.2 and 610.140.2(10).
section 610.140.2(10)'s prohibition on expungement for
certain categories of offenses applies to L.W.'s
petitions is not an issue of fact but an issue of statutory
interpretation. For such issues, this Court's job is
"to discern the intent of the legislature from the
language used." Spradling v. SSM Health Care St.
Louis, 313 S.W.3d 683, 686 (Mo. banc 2010). Issues of
statutory interpretation are subject to de novo
review. Newsome v. Kansas City, Mo. Sch. Dist., 520
S.W.3d 769, 780 (Mo. banc 2017). Because "the language
in section 610.140.2 is clear and unambiguous," the
words must be given their "plain and ordinary
meanings." R.H., 578 S.W.3d at 403.
1, the citation alleged a violation of section 301.277. This
statute "regulat[es] the operation of motor
vehicles," because section 301.277 requires "that
the operator of any vehicle for which reciprocal privileges
are claimed must have in his possession a valid and legal
registration certificate or other evidence of proper
registration issued for such vehicle by the state or other
jurisdiction in which it is registered." §
610.140.2(1o), § 301.277.2; see generally
§ 301.271-.279 (dealing with reciprocity in registration
with other states).
evidence before the trial court was that L.W. "had been
issued a [CDL]." The Case 1 citation showed the box
checked "yes" for "CDL." L.W. held a CDL
on the date the citation was issued. The charge on the
citation stated "Failed to register nonresident
commercial motor vehicle - reciprocal agreement: NO
ineligibility for an expungement in Case 1 is for an arrest,
and not for a conviction, because this case was dismissed.