A criminal conviction can taint someone for many years, if not their entire life. Getting a job, apartment, citizenship or professional license will be extremely difficult, if not impossible. However, there is a solution and that is an expungement, which involves the removal of criminal convictions from public inspection. Contrary to believe, no process will expunge records from all agencies. Once the information is sealed in a criminal record, it will no longer be available to the public, with the exception of law enforcement.
Eligible For Expungement
In Maryland, criminal records can be expunged from police files, court and police files and Motor Vehicle Administration files. Each agency utilizes a unique process, with some records being automatically expunged after a specified length of time. Depending on the offense the records may also be manually expunged.
Motor Vehicle Administration
The Motor Vehicle Administration utilizes a process that expunges records after three years. Depending on the last conviction and the type of offense, the records may also be manually expunged per request.
Individuals that are detained by a Maryland police agency, without being charged would have their records expunged automatically within 60 days of the initial release date. Under similar circumstances, the records may exist in police files, with the option of having them expunged within 8 years of the initial incident date. You can request an Investigative Release Form from the arresting agency to get these records expunged.
Court And Police Records
If you were charged with a criminal offense, but it was reduced to an infraction or civil offense, you may have a court and police record on file. Individuals who are charged with a crime that may impose a term of imprisonment may also have a record on file.
In Maryland, court records are never automatically expunged and to have them removed, a petition for expungement will need to be filed with the court.
Eligibility for expungement of court records include:
- Not guilty findings
- Dismissal of charges
- Guilty charge for a nuisance crime
- Charge resulted in probation before judgment (excluding DUI)
- State’s Attorney didn’t prosecute the charge
- Case was postponed indefinitely by the Court
- Case was settled
- Governor granted a full and unconditional pardon for a single non-violent criminal act
The waiting period to file a petition for expungement will vary depending on whether you file a General Waiver and Release and how your case was concluded. Petitions based on a nolle prosequi, dismissal or acquittal can be expunged, but the petition must be filed three years after the disposition. If a General Waiver and Release was filed, the court must receive the expungement petition within three years of the disposition.
In other cases, an expungement petition may be filed three or more years after the probation or conviction date.
Check your criminal history by visiting your local police department. You will be required to submit your fingerprints or have your fingerprints verified by the CJIS Central Repository. Your fingerprints will be processed and your criminal record will be mailed back to you.
Maryland expungement agency contact information:
Circuit Court: http://mdcourts.gov/circuit/index.html
District Court: http://mdcourts.gov/district/index.html
Motor Vehicle Administration: http://www.mva.state.md.us/