Do you want to file for expungement in Maryland, but not sure if you’re eligible or you’ve been denied by the Court? There are dozens of reasons why a petition for expungement may be denied.
On this page, Baltimore criminal defense lawyer Randolph Rice going to discuss 8 reasons you cannot get an expungement in Maryland or why your expungement may have been denied in the past (and how to fix the problem).
If you want to have your criminal record expunged in Maryland, visit MarylandExpungement.com, an online expungement service offered by expungement attorneys. First, let’s start with understanding expungement. Expungement means removing from public view any court or police record by obliteration or destruction.
The expungement laws are very specific and only allow for the removal of:
- Crimes and criminal offenses as defined by the Maryland Criminal laws
- Violations of the Transportation Article for which a term of imprisonment may be imposed, or
- Civil offenses or infractions, except a juvenile offense, as a substitute for a criminal charge
So now that you understand what expungement is, let talk about a couple of reasons one may be denied.
Minor Traffic Violations
Minor traffic violations are not eligible for expungement. There are two types of traffic violations in Maryland.
- Payable Tickets, and
- Must Appear Tickets
How do I know if my tickets are must appear or payable? On the ticket, there will be a dollar amount for the violation printed in the box or the words “must appear” next to the violation.
Payable tickets are traffic violations that may be resolved by paying the fine, request a waiver hearing or requesting a trial.
Payable ticket do not carry the potential for jail time, but if you pay them or found guilty, then points may be assessed to driver’s record. Some of the most common payable tickets are speeding violations and seat belt infractions.
Must Appear Tickets
Must appear tickets are traffic violations that could mean jail time for the driver charged. This includes such crimes as driving with a suspended or revoked license, driving uninsured and other similar offenses. Maryland Criminal Procedure (“CP”) 10-102 as well as CP 10-105 state that minor traffic violations are not eligible for expungement in Maryland.
Minor traffic violations are now (as of October 1, 2017) automatically expunged by the MVA. Click here to read more from the MVA.
According the Maryland Transportation Article 16–117.1(b), effective October 1, 2017, the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) shall expunge the public driving record of a licensee if:
- the licensee has not been convicted of a moving violation or a criminal offense involving a motor vehicle for the preceding 3 years, and the licensee’s license never has been suspended for reasons related to driver safety, as defined by the Administration, or revoked;
- The licensee has not been convicted of a moving violation or a criminal offense involving a motor vehicle for the preceding 5 years, and the licensee’s record shows not more than one suspension for reasons related to driver safety, as defined by the Administration, and no revocations; or
- Within the preceding 10 years:
- The licensee has not been granted probation before judgment for a violation of 20–102 or § 21–902 of this article; and
- The licensee has not been convicted of any moving violation or criminal offense involving a motor vehicle, regardless of the number of suspensions or revocations.
The MVA may refuse to expunge a driving record if it determines that the licensee has not driven a motor vehicle on the highways during the particular conviction-free period on which the expungement is based.
You Have Pending Charges
If an individual seeking an expungement has pending criminal charges, then that individual is not eligible for expungement of any previous case.
Maryland Criminal Procedure 10-105 (e)(4)(ii) states, “[a] person is not entitled to expungement if the person is a defendant in a pending criminal proceeding.”
If a person is trying to seek an expungement in Maryland and they are pending criminal proceedings, then they will not be able to file for expungement until the criminal proceedings have concluded. If you are pending criminal charges, it is wise to seek the advice of a criminal defense attorney.
Probation Before Judgement (PBJ) for DUI Expungement
If an individual is trying to expunge a DUI, it may be harder that most other types of charges. Drunk driving charges, including DUI, DWI, and related offenses under Maryland Transportation Article 21-902 are not eligible for expungement if the defendant was:
- found guilty, or
- received a probation before judgment (PBJ).
Maryland Criminal Procedure 10-105(a) states, “A person who has been charged with…a violation of the Transportation Article for which a term of imprisonment may be imposed…may file an [expungement] petition…. [if] a probation before judgment is entered, unless the person is charged with a violation of §21–902 of the Transportation Article…”
Section 21-902 of the Transportation Article contains the various driving under the influence and driving while impaired statutes.
So if you got a PBJ or were found guilty of DUI or DWI in Maryland, you cannot remove it from your record. In addition, if the State Nolle Prosequi the balance of the charges, you still cannot expunge those charges because they are all part of the same unit, which is discussed in the next section.
What is Unit and How Does It Affect Your Expungement?
To understand “unit,” it’s best to explain a couple of other terms. When a person is charged with a crime or crimes, those crimes are assigned a case number or a “case.” Under the Maryland expungement law, unit is classified as all of the charges in a case. There may be one charge or crime in a unit or multiple crimes or charges in a unit.
If there are multiple charges in a unit, then each charge or crime must be eligible under the expungement laws for the entire unit or case to be eligible for expungement.
Maryland Criminal Procedure 10-107(a) states, “…if two or more charges, other than one for a minor traffic violation, arise from the same incident, transaction, or set of facts, they are considered to be a unit.”
The law goes on to states under 10-107(b)(1), “If a person is not entitled to expungement of one charge or conviction in a unit, the person is not entitled to expungement of any other charge or conviction in the unit.”
The outcome of a minor traffic violation that arises from the same incident, transaction, or set of facts as a charge in the unit does not affect any right to expungement of a charge or conviction in the unit. This means a payable traffic ticket will not prevent an expungement petition from being filed.
Stet Expungement Must Wait 3 Years
If all charges in a case or unit were marked Stet, a petition may not be filed earlier than 3 years from the date of entry of the Stet.
Stet is an indefinite postponement of criminal charges. This is an often used tool by prosecutors to resolve a criminal case without dismissing the charges or entering a nolle prosequi.
If the State petitions the Court and is entered, then the case will be inactive. The State and defendant can petition the Court to reopen the charges within the first year for any reason. During years two and three, only upon a showing of good cause to the Court, may the case be reopened.
If a petition for expungement is filed less than 3 years after the expungement was entered, then the Court will deny the expungement.
Maryland Criminal Procedure 10-105(c)(5) states, “a petition for expungement based on a stet…may not be filed within 3 years after the stet…”
This means an individual or their lawyer must wait 3 years after the Stet was entered to file an expungement for that case.
Filed With the Wrong Court
If a petition for expungement is filed in the wrong Court, then the expungement will be denied.
According to Maryland Criminal Procedure 10-105(b)(1) states, “…a person shall file a petition in the court in which the proceeding began.”
Maryland Criminal Procedure 10-105(2)(i) states, “…if the proceeding began in one court and was transferred to another court, the person shall file the petition in the court to which the proceeding was transferred.”
If the case is eligible for expungement in the Circuit Court, then the Circuit Court will notify the District Court to destroy (expunge) the record in their system.
You Didn’t Wait Long Enough to Expunge a PBJ
Most cases where the individual received a PBJ are eligible for expungement, except DUI and DWI convictions. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.
If a person is granted and PBJ and then within 3 years after receiving the PBJ receives a guilty finding in another case, then PBJ will not be eligible for expungement. (CP 10-105(e)(4)(i))
Also, a petition for expungement based on a probation before judgment may not be filed earlier than the later of:
- the date the petitioner was discharged from probation or the requirements of obtaining drug or alcohol abuse treatment were completed; OR
- 3 years after the probation was granted.
In most cases, an individual must wait a minimum of 3 years from the date the PBJ was entered, unless the period of probation was longer than 3 years, then the individual must wait until the probation is over.
A Waiver and Release Was Not Filed
If an individual wants to file an expungement based on an acquittal, a nolle prosequi, or a dismissal may not be filed within 3 years after the disposition.
However, if the person wants to file an expungement for an acquittal, a nolle prosequi, or a dismissal, before the 3 years has run, then a Waiver and Release must be filed.
If a petition for expungement does not include a waiver and release, then it will be denied. (Maryland Criminal Procedure 10-105(c)(1))
Maryland Expungement Lawyers that Know the Law
If you would like to file for an expungement in Maryland, there is an easy way to ensure it is done the right way the first time.
MarylandExpungement.com is an online expungement service that is run and operated by an expungement lawyer. Attorney Randolph Rice has made the process so simple.
All you have to do is answer a couple of simple questions about your criminal history and background, and they do the rest. Check out their site today and take the free expungement eligibility test today.