In the American justice system, there are many different ways to resolve criminal charges. The prosecution and defense may reach a plea bargain where the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for the dismissal of more serious charges. Alternatively, the defendant may choose to go to trial and hope that a jury finds them not guilty of the crime they are accused of.
This article focuses on Expungement as another way of resolving criminal charges. Expungement is where the court orders that any record of a person’s arrest or conviction be sealed from public view. Most states have laws allowing for Expungement in certain circumstances, which we will explore here. It is important to note that most states require you to wait a period before applying for Expungement. For example, in Maryland, you must wait seven years after completion of probation before applying for Expungement, or two years if you have already completed probation within the last three years. Keep reading to learn more about eligibility for Expungement and other details about this process as it applies in Maryland.
What is Maryland Expungement?
In Maryland, Expungement is the process of sealing a person’s criminal record from public view. Maryland expungement rules are governed by the General Assembly, which passed the Expungement Law in 2010. This law allows people who have had certain criminal charges dismissed to petition the court for an expungement of the record of their arrest and conviction. An expunged record is one that members of the general public cannot obtain, and only those with a �need to know’ will have access to it.
What is Maryland Expungement for?
The main purpose of Maryland Expungement is to allow individuals who were once accused of a crime but were never convicted to get their records sealed from public view. Expungement is not the same as an absolute pardon. A pardon may be granted by the governor where all legal consequences of a criminal conviction are erased. An expungement only seals the record from public view and does not erase the fact that you were once charged with a crime.
What types of records can be expunged in Maryland?
There are certain crimes for which you can seek an expungement:
-A first offense for possessing marijuana under 10 grams, which you may expunge after two years.
-A first offense for possession of drug paraphernalia, which you may expunge after two years.
-A juvenile record that is no longer sealed.
-Arrest records that did not lead to a conviction and more than three years have passed since the date of arrest.
What factors influence whether or not you will receive an expungement order?
Maryland courts have discretion over granting expungement orders, meaning that judges have the power to interpret and apply the law as they see fit and may deny your application for various reasons. It is difficult to predict whether you will receive an expungement order in your case or not. The court will look at the facts of your case, including any mitigating circumstances you had and the purpose of Maryland expungement law, to determine if it should grant your petition for Expungement.
Where can you find more information about Maryland Expungement?
Several resources are available to help you understand Maryland expungement laws. The state of Maryland provides a section on the Attorney General’s website where you can find a wealth of information and links to relevant court forms. In addition, there is an excellent FAQ section where you can learn all about what might be required at each stage of the expungement process in Maryland.