Maryland’s Expungement Process
One fairly common question that we get as
criminal defense attorneys is whether and how a person can expunge records
pertaining to criminal charges that are in the Maryland Court system. It is relatively easy to find out what
involvement a person has had with the Maryland Criminal Justice system as long
as their records have not been expunged.
An unexpunged criminal record presents an obstacle to obtaining new
employment, getting a security clearance as well as numerous other matters.
Fortunately, getting a criminal record
expunged is a relatively painless and inexpensive process, provided that you
are eligible. For purposes of
expungement a criminal record means the court record pertaining to any criminal
offense, other than a juvenile offense, including any traffic offense in which
a jail sentence may be imposed. A
criminal record includes any record of the violation, including a docket entry,
pleading, index, charging document, memorandum, transcription of the proceedings,
electronic recording, order and judgment.
Expungement means that the criminal record
is removed from public inspection either by being destroyed or being removed to
a secured area that is not publicly accessible.
is Eligible for Expungements?
Persons arrested but where no charge is filed. A person who has been arrested, detained, or
confined, but has not been charged is eligible for expungement. An expungement based solely on an arrest
without charges must be filed within eight years of the arrest.
Defendants whose charges are nolle processed before service. If
the state dismisses the charges before serving the defendant, the defendant may
have the record expunged.
Defendants who are acquitted
Defendants whose charges are otherwise dismissed
A person who receives a probation before judgment, except where
otherwise prohibited. Certain offenses
may not be expunged even with a probation before judgment. DUIs and DWIs fall into this category
A nolle prosequi is entered
The court grants a “stet” or indefinite postponement
The case is compromised under §3-207 of the Criminal Law Article
The charge was transferred to juvenile court
Defendants found guilty of certain nuisance crimes such as
public urination, panhandling, drinking an alcoholic beverage in a public
place, obstructing the free passage of another in a public place, sleeping on
or in park structures, loitering, vagrancy, riding a transit vehicle without
paying the fare
The defendant was found not criminal responsible for trespass,
disturbing the peace or telephone misuse
The defendant was convicted of an offense which is no longer a
An expungement is obtained by filing a
petition for expungement with the court where the case being expunged was
filed. If the case was transferred to
another court, however, the petition will be filed in the court to which the
case was transferred.
a petition for expungement based on an acquittal, nolle prosequi, or dismissal
may not be filed until three years of the disposition, however, if the
petitioner files a general release and waiver of all tort claims arising from
the charge, the petition may be filed earlier.
A petition based on a probation before
judgment or stet with the requirement of drug or alcohol abuse treatment may
not be filed earlier than the later of: (1) the date that the defendant is
discharged from probation or the requirements of the drug or alcohol treatment
are completed; or (2) three years after the probation was granted or the date
the stet with requirement for drug or alcohol abuse treatment was entered on
A petition based on a governor’s pardon must
be filed within ten (10) years of the pardon.
A petition based on a stet or compromise
under 3-207 of the Criminal Law Article may not be filed within three years of
the stet or compromise.
A petition based on conviction of a nuisance
crime may be filed three years after the conviction or satisfactory completion
of the sentence, whichever is later.
A petitioner based on a finding of not
criminal responsible may be filed three years after the finding of not criminal
The court has discretion to grant a petition
for expungement at any time upon a showing of good cause.
If the state’s attorney files an objection
to a petition for expungement the court will hold a hearing. A person is not entitled to an expungement
based on a probation before judgment if, within three years after the probation
before judgment was entered, the person was convicted of another crime, other than
a minor traffic violation.
Expungements are not handled piecemeal. This
means that in order to be eligible for an expungement, each charge within the
case being expunged must be eligible for an expungement. If, for example, the defendant has a conviction
on one offense, but is acquitted of an another offense in the same case, the
defendant cannot obtain an expungement of the offense of which he was
Hiring an Attorney
At Baldwin & Briscoe, we help clients
obtain expungements on a regular basis. We
can meet with you and determine if you are eligible for an expungement. If you are not eligible for an expungement,
we’ll be happy to advise you whether there are steps that can be taken to make
you eligible at some point in the future.
We can also guide you through the process, file the appropriate petition
and represent you in court, if your petition for expungement requires a
hearing. It is generally not expensive
to hire an attorney to handle a simple expungement.
If you decide to proceed without an
attorney, expungement forms are available through the District Court website or
at the clerk’s office of any district court in Maryland.
information contained on this page is provided as general information and does
not constitute legal advice. The
experienced attorneys at Baldwin & Briscoe, P.C. can assist you if you are
facing criminal charges of any kind or seeking an expungement. We’d be happy to sit down with you and review
your situation and provide appropriate advice.
Call today for your free, no-obligation consultation. All consultations are strictly
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