In Maryland, records can be expunged from Motor Vehicle Administration files, police files, and court files. The filing process for each agency is different- no single filing expunges records from all three simultaneously.
After three years, motor vehicle records are automatically expunged. Suppose a police agency detained you, but no charges were filed. In that case, your records will be automatically expunged within 60 days of being released (if you were detained before 10/01/2007, your records might still exist).
There is no automatic expungement of court files. It may be possible to expunge a court record if:
- The court dismissed your case
- There was a charge against you, but it was for certain types of nuisance crimes
- (Except in drunk driving cases), the case resulted in probation before judgment.
- The district attorney did not prosecute your charge
- Your case was indefinitely postponed or settled
- The Governor granted you a pardon for only one non-violent crime you were convicted of.
Expungement is not available under the following circumstances:
- If you are a defendant in a criminal proceeding or investigation
- If you were on probation before judgment and were convicted of another crime afterward
- Civil lawsuits, unless the civil charge was a substitute for criminal charges
According to Maryland expungement statutes, each stage of the process has a specific time frame. From the time of filing, expungement should take about 90 days.
In the event that an agency objects, the process may be extended. Any issues with the expungement can be objected to within 30 days. The defendant has 30 days to appeal a court’s denial of the petition.
The court will issue an order for expungement if no agencies object to the petition. The defendant will receive a Certificate of Compliance confirming that the records have been expunged.
What Is the Process for Expunging My Criminal Record?
An expunction of a criminal record is not a constitutional right, so people seeking to expunge their records must meet certain qualifications when it is allowed. Expunction is a privilege, so most states only allow it if you’ve been rehabilitated and have returned to society.
You may be able to expunge your record if a certain amount of time has passed since your conviction and you have already served your sentence.
Most states that allow expunction limit what can be cleared or sealed. Expunction is usually not available for serious or violent crimes. An expunction will not remove the requirement to register as a sex offender as a result of a conviction.
If My Criminal Record Is Expunged, What Happens?
You can legally deny ever having been convicted of a crime in almost any situation if you have had your conviction expunged. When interviewing for a job, if the interviewer asks if you have ever been convicted of a crime and the conviction has been expunged, you can legally reply that you have never been convicted.
Certain exceptions to this rule apply, such as jobs that require you to disclose convictions even if they have been expunged (caring for children, government jobs, etc.).
Can You Expunge a Juvenile Record?
The expungement of juvenile criminal records is automatic in many states, but this varies. You should seek the advice of a qualified lawyer specializing in sealing juvenile records. In general, expungement is only available to those who have maintained a clean criminal record in the intervening years. In addition, individual courts may have their own procedures for expunging juvenile records.
Are Misdemeanors Expungable?
A misdemeanor crime is one that is punishable by less than a year in county jail (not a prison facility) and by monetary fines. The majority of misdemeanors can be expunged from a person’s record.
Some commonly expunged misdemeanor convictions include:
- Charges for drunk driving or DUI, especially for first-time offenders;
- Non-violent crimes;
- Theft-related crimes;
- Vandalism and trespassing;
- Resisting arrest.
Misdemeanor expungements can actually help clear a person’s criminal record. It cannot undo certain penalties, such as restoring gun ownership privileges or exempting the offender from sex offender registration penalties.
Is it Possible to Expunge a Felony From Your Criminal Record?
A felony crime is generally defined as a crime punishable by more than one year in prison (not a county jail facility) and higher criminal fines or fees. The process of expunging felony charges is generally more difficult than that of expunging misdemeanor charges.
Some states do not allow for the expungement of felonies at all; in some states, only certain felonies are eligible for expungement.
It is generally believed that the more serious the felony, the less likely it is to be expunged. There are longer sentences and higher criminal fees associated with more serious crimes.
Usually, less serious felonies like non-violent crimes (such as possession of drugs) are more likely to be eligible for expungement. Serious crimes like rape or sexual assault, felonies involving victims younger than 18 years old, and other similar crimes are not typically eligible for expungement.
Last but not least, federal felonies are generally not expungable. In some cases, the defendant may be granted a pardon when convicted of a federal felony (though this is rare).
What Is the Difference Between Record Sealing and Expungement?
The main difference between record sealing and expungement is that criminal records still “exist” if the records are sealed. Employers and other individuals cannot access the files and records, but they are still there. Juvenile criminal files are usually sealed once someone turns 18 (though they can sometimes still be accessed via court order).
On the other hand, expungement results in the actual deletion or erasure of criminal charges and arrest records. It may be more difficult to expunge certain charges than others. For instance, misdemeanor charges are usually more easily expunged than felony charges.
Laws regarding criminal record sealing and expungement can vary widely from state to state. In many cases, eligibility for such procedures depends on the type of crime committed.
Record Sealing and Expungement Eligibility
In general, the procedure for sealing records varies from state to state, but generally, it goes like this:
- The court where the conviction occurred must be notified in writing of your desire to seal the record
- There must have been a serving of the original sentence
- No new charges have been filed against the individual
- It is the applicant’s responsibility to prove that probation requirements have been met
An expungement is often filed in the same court where the prosecution occurred.
Expunction petitions usually only cover one case; if multiple records need to be expunged, separate petitions must be filed. The judge will then review the petition and determine whether they are eligible. Some courts have their own procedures for expungement or sealing records.
Information About Sealing or Expunging Records
Keep in mind:
- Expunction is not available for many felonies
- Record sealing is not available for nearly all sex offenses
- In most cases, expungement applies to juvenile offenses or misdemeanors
- The original sealed conviction may still be used to increase the severity of a future sentence in some states, even when records are sealed
In Maryland, Do I Need a Lawyer to Expunge a Conviction?
Many Maryland expungement attorneys are experienced in obtaining an expungement. You can find out if you qualify to wipe your record clean by submitting your legal situation to LegalMatch.