As a Baltimore Maryland Criminal Attorney, I receive inquiries on a daily basis by people who want to have their criminal records expunged. Unfortunately, most of the people who contact me for this purpose are dissapointed to hear that they cannot have their records expunged. The rules in Maryland are relatively straightforward although they have been modified slightly a few times in recent years.
The first thing that everyone who is considering expungement needs to understand is that if the case at issue resulted in a criminal conviction, whether it be for a misdemeanor or a felony, that conviction is permanent and cannot be expunged from that person’s record without a pardon from the Governor. As I said, many people are extremely surprised and dissapointed to hear that they do not qualify for expungement even in cases in which the conviction was for a misdemeanor and occurred 15 or 20 years in the past, but that in fact, is the law in Maryland.
In Maryland, There are 6 possible dispositions of a criminal case that will entitle a person to have his record expunged either immediately or after a period of 3 years.
1. The person is acquitted.
2. The State dismisses or enters nolle prosequi in the case.
(In the case of an acquittal, a dismissal or a nolle prosequi, the defendant is entitled to have the matter expunged immediately. The defendant is also required to execute a General Waiver and Release of all claims which the person may have for wrongful conduct by reason of the arrest, detention or confinement related to the incident to be entitled to immediate expungement).
3. The state petitions the court to indefinitely postpone or stet the case.
(The defendant must wait 3 years from the entry of the stet before having the matter expunged.)
4. The defendant receives probation before judgment pursuant to Criminal Procedure 6-220.
(The defendant must wait 3 years from the date of the entry of the probation before having the matter expunged.)
5. The matter is transferred to the juvenile court pursuant to Criminal Procedure 4-202.
(The defendant is entited to immediate expungement.)
6. The person has only one conviction, it is for a non-violent offense and the person receives a full and unconditional pardon from the Governor.
As noted above, the rule for cases resulting in probation before judgment or an indefinite postponement is that the person must wait 3 years. There is however a catch all provision that allowes the court to grant a petition for expungement at any time for good cause shown. We have successfully had matters expunged prior to the 3 year waiting period in cases in which the the probation before judgment or stet was adversely effecting the defendant’s ability to gain employment or acceptance into an institution of higher learning.
Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of the people who contact me regarding expungement are people who have convictions on their records. Again, people who have convictions on their record are not entititled to have their records expunged.