A past criminal conviction or even an arrest can stop you from moving on with your life. It can hit your job and educational prospects and hold you back. The good news is Maryland has more liberal laws than many other states about wiping the slate clean for less serious offenses. The question of how long an arrest stays on your record in Maryland depends on the nature of the offense and whether you were convicted.
People who are arrested may not always realize the details of their arrest can be discovered even if they were not convicted. Oftentimes, people may not be aware a conviction can be expunged. Our Maryland expungement lawyer can advise you on whether a record can be removed. In Maryland, records may be expunged from Motor Vehicle Administration, police and court records. Each process removes specific files. Expungement must be done through the proper agency. No process expunges the records from all of the agencies.
When Does an Arrest or a Citation Stay on Your Record?
Information such as arrest details and citations show up on the Maryland Judiciary Case Search as well as the official Record of Arrest and Prosecutions, known as your RAP sheet. Maryland criminal defense attorneys who are helping a client with expungement look at both of these databases.
As a rule of thumb, any arrest or a citation will appear on your criminal record regardless of what later happened in court. The record will show an arrest or a citation even if:
- A judge or a jury acquitted you:
- Your case was dismissed:
- A judgment of probation was entered in the case;
- The prosecutor decides to drop the case before the trial and a Nolle Prosequi was entered;
- The case was placed on an inactive docket;
- You were convicted or opted to pay a fine.
Although many people don’t file for expungement it’s important because most employers, businesses, organizations, and agencies require a background check for applicants. Having criminal charges on your record can affect employment, housing applications, enrollment at schools, and other government services.
Eligibility for Expungement in Maryland
The process of cleaning up your criminal record is called expungement. Typically, expungement applies to records that did not result in a conviction, but several specific types of offenses can be expunged post-conviction. Maryland has minimum waiting times before filing for to clean up your record, depending on how your case ended.
According to Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, people who seek the removal of an arrest record in certain circumstances should be able to get their records sealed within 90 days of the application unless there is an appeal or an objection. This does not include Motor Vehicle Administration records, which may contain minor traffic violations like speeding tickets. Each case costs $30 to process. If you have been charged with a crime, including a traffic violation which carries a potential prison team, you may file a petition for expungement if:
- The charge was dismissed;
- You were found not guilty;
- The charge resulted in probation before judgment. DUI charges are not included;
- The State’s Attorney did not prosecute your charge;
- The case was settled;
- The court indefinitely postponed your case (stet);
- You were convicted of only one non-violent criminal act and received a full and unconditional pardon from the Governor;
- The case was juvenile waived.
How to File a Petition to Get a Criminal Matter Expunged in Maryland
Typically, you must wait at least three years after you served a sentence to file for expungement. You may file earlier if you were acquitted, received a nolle prosequi, or a dismissal of the charges. A 2017 law allows the automatic expunction of police records within 60 days if you were detained by a police agency, but were released without charge.
Maryland Expungement Laws and Included Offenses
A change in the law that came into effect on Oct. 1, 2017, widened the number of offenses that can be removed from a criminal record in Maryland although waiting times can be lengthy.
Many misdemeanor offenses including the fairly common offense of second-degree assault became eligible for removal under the new law.
With a few exceptions, offenses can be removed from your record after 10 years as long as you do not re-offend within that time. One exception in the Justice Reinvestment Act was domestic violence second-degree assault convictions. People who are convicted of these offenses must wait for 15 years.
Certain crimes can be expunged after three years following the guilty conviction or the satisfactory completion of a sentence, including probation, whichever is later. They include drinking alcohol in a public place, urination in public, loitering, and vagrancy.
New offenses eligible for expungement include misdemeanor theft under $1,000, possession of drug paraphernalia, and prostitution. You must wait 10 years for the expungement of offenses including disorderly intoxication, possession of a controlled or dangerous substance, or breaking and entering a motor vehicle.
The clock to removal of your criminal record starts ticking not when you are convicted but once a sentence and probation are completed. if a defendant is sentenced to two years in jail and two years’ probation, the waiting period for expungement begins when both the jail and probation periods end.
Although expungement is not a right, most applications are granted, according to records.
Will Traffic Offenses Be Removed from Your Driving Record in Maryland?
The Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration automatically expunges eligible driving records. In the past, you had to request a driving record expungement, and removal was not automatic. A driving record expungement means specific entries on your driving record (including associated points), will be removed.
When a Criminal Offense Cannot Be Removed From Your Record in Maryland
There are numerous reasons why it may not be possible to expunge a criminal record in Maryland. The offense in question must be one that’s eligible for expunction under Maryland law. If you received probation before judgment, and you were later convicted of a new crime within three years of the PBJ, you cannot get the PBJ case expunged. If your new conviction is for a minor traffic violation or for an action that was previously a crime but is no longer an offense, the new conviction will not prevent you from getting the PBJ expunged.
Contact a Maryland Expungement Lawyer About Getting Your Arrest Expunged
Finding out how to remove an arrest or another criminal matter from your record is not a straightforward matter. The offense itself and other circumstances dictate how to proceed. An experienced Baltimore criminal defense lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of the criminal justice system and get your life back on track. Please contact Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 657-5658.