What is the Difference between a Dismissal and an Expungement?

If you have been accused of a crime, you should do everything in your power to ensure your freedom. If you have been convicted of a crime, it can affect your ability to get a job and a home.
A Jefferson City Criminal Defense lawyer might be able to get a case dismissed for a person who has been accused of a crime. If a person has been convicted of a crime, a lawyer may be able to get a criminal record expunged.


A dismissal happens before a person accused of a crime is convicted of that crime. It simply means that charges against a person are dismissed, and the case is dropped. A judge can decide to dismiss your case, but it is rare. In most cases, your attorney will have to file a motion for dismissal.

A motion to dismiss can be filed any time before an actual conviction. There are several different reasons for which a person may request a dismissal.

If an arresting officer did not read you your Miranda rights or searched you without a proper warrant, your attorney might get the case dismissed. If the state prosecutor does not have sufficient evidence against you, a motion to dismiss will also be in order.

An officer must have probable cause to issue a search warrant or arrest a suspect. An eye witness or an informant may establish probable cause. It may also be established by an expert's opinion, such as a criminologist. If they merely have reasonable suspicion, the case can be dismissed.

Lack of jurisdiction is another reason an attorney may seek a dismissal. Each court is vested with the power to enforce certain laws. If a person breaks the law, they must be tried for the crime in a court that has the authority to enforce that law. For example, if a person was accused of embezzling from their company, they could not be tried in the United States Tax Court.


When you have been convicted of a crime and paid all fees that you were requested to and completed any jail sentences and community service that you were supposed to, your attorney may be able to get the record erased from your criminal record. In the state of Missouri, a person must wait one year to apply for an expungement for a misdemeanor and three years to ask for an expungement for a felony. Expungement gives a person who has paid their debt to society the opportunity to move on with their life.

If you have your criminal record expunged, it will not appear on most background checks. You will not have to worry about an expunged record showing up on a general background check. However, if you apply for a job that requires a security clearance, the record of the charges may show up.

If you have had a criminal charge dismissed, you may be able to have the record of the charges sealed. Your attorney will have to file a petition to get these records sealed.

Rebuilding your life after you have been accused or convicted of a crime can be difficult. An expungement or dismissal will give you a chance at a bright future. 

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Posted - 03/24/2022