If you have an arrest or conviction on your criminal record, you likely know how that conviction can affect nearly every area of your life. Most applications ask whether or not you’ve been convicted of any criminal charges than a minor traffic offense. Some may simply ask if you have an arrest on your record. Answering yes to those questions could cost you a job, a loan, admission to college, or even the ability to rent a property.
Expungement in Maryland
That arrest or conviction doesn’t have to stay with you forever, though. Most states, including Maryland, have some kind of procedure in place to expunge criminal records. You can file a petition for expungement and make your case in court. In Maryland, the success of a petition to expunge depends primarily on how the case was resolved.
Do you have a criminal record?
Before your start the expungement process, though, it’s important to determine whether any records exist. If you were arrested after October 1, 2007, but were never charged, then your arrest records were likely automatically expunged 60 days after the arrest. If you were arrested before that date and charges were never filed, the police department may have your arrest records on file. You can file a petition for expungement as long as it hasn’t been more than eight years since the arrest.
Expungement is possible if
If you were charged, then you may be able to petition to have the charges expunged, depending on the outcome of the case. Here are the scenarios in which expungement may be possible:
You were found not guilty or the charges were dismissed.
The state prosecutor declined to prosecute the case.
You were found guilty of certain nuisance crimes.
The result was probation before judgement. The exception to this situation is when the charges were for driving while under the influence.
The case was indefinitely postponed.
You were convicted of exactly one non-violent crime and you subsequently received a full pardon from the Governor.
If your charges meet one of those criteria, you can file to have it expunged by the Motor Vehicle Administration, from police records, and from court records. You must petition the Court in which your case was heard in and the Court will direct each agency separately, so one petition will work with all three. A criminal defense attorney can help you determine which agencies you need to address and how to start the process.
What Expungement Means
Also, keep in mind that an expungement doesn’t mean that you’re considered innocent. It just means that you no longer have to disclose the conviction. There are still some agencies and employers that may be able to see your conviction even if you don’t disclose it. For example, if you were convicted in Maryland and applying for some kind of job with the city of Baltimore, they would likely be able to see the conviction, even if it was expunged.
Before you take on the expungement process, talk to a criminal defense lawyer. They can advise you of your odds for success and help guide you through the process.
If you want to learn more about expungements or would like our office to handle the process, call us at 410-288-2900 or email the office for immediate legal help.