Can I Clear a Domestic Violence Charge From My Record?
Being charged with domestic assault can have several long-lasting negative effects on your life. If you’re convicted of a domestic assault, you could go to prison, lose your job, or have a difficult time finding work in the future. Even if the charges are later dropped and you are never convicted, having a domestic violence arrest on your record can severely impact your ability to maintain employment and personal relationships.
For a better chance at getting your charges expunged, it’s critical that you work with a skilled criminal defense attorney. If you’ve been charged with domestic assault in Missouri, call me at Howard L. Lotven, P.C. for dependable legal guidance. I can help you understand your options and can assist you in petitioning the court to clear the charges from your record.
Domestic Violence Charges in Missouri
First, it’s necessary to understand Missouri’s domestic violence laws. “Domestic violence,” or “domestic assault,” is the act of causing (or attempting to cause) pain, injury, illness, or other physical harm to someone who meets one or more or the following criteria:
They live with you in your household.
They share a child with you (regardless of whether you are still in a relationship.)
They are (or once were) your romantic partner/spouse.
They are related to you by blood or marriage.
All domestic assault charges in Missouri are serious and can be classified as either felonies or misdemeanors. For example, domestic assault in the first degree—that is, causing/attempting to cause serious injury or attempting to kill the domestic victim—is the most serious, carrying a Class B felony or Class A felony if injuries are severe. Class B felonies are punishable by up to 15 years in prison, while Class A felonies are punishable by 10-20 years to life in prison.
On the less serious end, domestic assault in the fourth degree—or recklessly causing/attempting to cause harm to the domestic victim—is a Class A misdemeanor carrying a penalty of up to 1 year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
As you can see, even a fourth-degree domestic assault charge is a grave matter in the eyes of the law. For that reason, it’s important to contact an attorney as soon as you are charged so that you can begin crafting the best defense.
Determining Eligibility to Clear Your Record
Once a victim has pressed charges and those charges have been filed, the victim cannot request that the charges be dropped. This is a precaution put in place to ensure that the victim is not being coerced into dropping the charges. However, before a conviction takes place, the arresting officer or the judge may drop the charges if:
There is insufficient evidence to prove the case (for example, if the defendant has an alibi or there are no injuries.)
The plaintiff has previously provided a false report about domestic violence.
The defendant’s attorney sends a dismissal letter to the court explaining why there are no grounds for the case. (This is just one reason why having an attorney is desirable if you’re facing domestic assault charges.)
If your charges are dropped or dismissed, you can apply for closure of your arrest record.
Expungement of Domestic Assault Records in Missouri
Getting a domestic assault conviction expunged is more complicated, however. To have a record “expunged” means to have all records relating to the case removed from all publicly accessible electronic files except those kept by the court, which are sealed and not viewable except by a court order. Missouri law prohibits certain convictions from being expunged, among them many violent crimes such as domestic assault. However, in some cases—for example, if you were wrongfully convicted—you may be able to apply to get your domestic assault conviction expunged.
A knowledgeable attorney will be able to advise you further on this point, but it is always best to avoid a conviction in the first place. Your attorney can help you every step of the way to work toward getting your charges dropped, from gathering evidence and sending a dismissal letter to defending and supporting you during your trial.
Get an Attorney’s Support
If you require the advice of a criminal defense attorney, call me, Howard L. Lotven. I know how the prosecution and the judges think because I myself have been a defense attorney, a prosecutor, and a judge. You deserve the assistance of an honest, skilled, and passionate criminal defense attorney dedicated to working with you toward obtaining the best possible outcome for your case.
Don’t wait to seek expert advice and support. If you’ve been charged with domestic assault in Missouri, call me at Howard L. Lotven, P.C., located in Kansas City and also serving Independence, Rock Port, and Lexington.