Criminal charges can have extensive and life-long effects for the convicted. Individuals with a criminal record often face difficulties obtaining employment and procuring suitable living arrangements because of them. However, under certain circumstances and depending on a number of factors, Marylanders may be able to have their arrests or even convictions removed from their public record through a process called expungement.
What is Expungement?
Expungement serves to remove entries from an individual’s public record. Maryland expungement laws allow for this removal, making that information inaccessible to potential employers, landlords and other interested parties. In some cases, expungement laws can provide individuals with a fresh start.
Who is Eligible for Expungement?
Individuals who are charged with a criminal act may file a petition to have their charges expunged if their case meets certain criteria. Individuals may file a petition if:
- The charges brought against them were dismissed
- The individual was found not guilty
- A State’s Attorney did not prosecute the charges against the individual
- The case was stetted
- The individual received a full pardon by the Maryland Governor
- The charge resulted in probation before judgement
- Certain minor offenses EVEN IF there is a Guilty finding
- Guilty findings for offenses which are NO LONGER criminal offenses (i.e. possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana)
There are certain limitations on some of these options relating to waiting periods and signing a waiver of the option to sue the complainant, but otherwise the rules do allow for the removal of these records.
The Maryland Second Chance Act of 2015
In October 2015, Maryland passed the Second Chance Act of 2015, which allows people convicted of certain criminal acts and traffic violations the opportunity to have their convictions shielded from the public record. This law aims to help these individuals transition back into society without facing employment and housing discrimination due to their past offenses. The information that is shielded from the public will remain accessible to law enforcement officials and through certain background checks.
The law provides that if eligible to have a conviction shielded, individuals must have completed any sentences for the offenses and wait three years to file. Should an offender be convicted of another criminal offense during the stipulated waiting period, they will become ineligible to have both the initial offense and the new offense shielded until the waiting period passes for the newer conviction.
Maryland expungement laws and the Second Chance Act of 2015 enable some people who have been involved in the criminal justice system to pursue better opportunities through employment and stable living arrangements. If you have been charged with, or convicted of, a non-violent crime, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal law attorney regarding your expungement eligibility. The criminal defense attorneys at Alperstein and Diener represent individuals charged with an array of crimes. For additional information regarding expungement and conviction shielding, contact our firm.