April 3, 2024

Missouri’s circuit courts have been busy processing expungements to comply with the 2022 constitutional amendment. The constitutional amendment created a June 8 deadline for expunging misdemeanors and December 8 for felonies. The state’s courts have successfully cleared over 100,000 marijuana-related charges from residents’ criminal records. However, court officials have discussed requesting additional funding to complete these expungements.

The court officials commented on their challenges when determining how many marijuana records they still need to expunge. According to the officials, many records are not in digital format. As a result, they confirmed that they had to physically sort and review the physical documents to determine which records qualify for expungements.

The state began the expungement process by identifying which digital records qualify. After determining the appropriate information, they sent it to the circuit courts for expunging. This process allowed the courts to expunge 103,558 by January 2, 2024. However, many court officials believe they need more funding to continue. This funding would help them complete the detailed work required to complete the expungements under Amendment 3.

Court officials intend to request an additional $3.7 million for the upcoming budget year. They will soon make a case before a House appropriations committee. During the last budgeting year, state courts provided state courts with an additional $4.5 million. This budget paid for overtime and temporary workers to process the many expungements that Amendment 3 required. On May 5, the state also approved an additional $2.5 million supplemental budget.

The law explains how they use the revenue from taxes collected on recreational marijuana sales and fees paid by regulated businesses. According to the law, this revenue would cover the costs of regulating the program. Any additional revenue would go to the court system to cover the expenses associated with the expungements guaranteed under the law.

To access the additional funds, the courts must request reimbursement for incurred expenses related to performing additional work for the Circuit Court Budget Committee. According to the Missouri Supreme Court’s communications counsel, Beth Riggert, the committee has provided the courts $4.2 million in additional funding. These funds have often helped pay for overtime and further assistance to complete the expungement processes.

Greene County received $940,000 and used it to complete the most expungements, 4,306. However, the amount of funding and size of the county do not dictate which counties expunge the most records. For example, Laclede County expunged the second-highest number of records despite having a population of 36,000 and receiving roughly $35,000 from the assistance program.

Information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only and should not constitute as legal advice. We recommend you contact your own legal counsel for any questions regarding your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.