Have you ever wanted to erase your past criminal records?
Well, in Maryland, there are ways you can clean up your past, through the process of expungement, so that you can move forward in life and stop being held back by poor decisions that you made some time ago.
In fact, if your prior criminal past meets specific conditions set forth by Maryland law, you may be able remove your criminal files and prevent them from being accessed by both the general public and law enforcement agencies indefinitely.
If you reside in Maryland, and are interested in finding out how to expunge your criminal record, keep reading.
Today’s guide will explain what exactly expungement in Maryland entails, what it takes to be considered eligible for expungement, why you should consider removing your criminal records from the public eye, and the basic process you must go through to become fully expunged in Maryland.
What is Expungement?
As mentioned earlier, expungement is the removal (or sealing) of your criminal past from the both the general public and law enforcement agencies. More specifically, expungement is the process by which you ask the court to remove certain court and police records from public view.
Simply put, through the process of expungement, your criminal past is no longer available for anyone to find out about, unless you mention it them personally.
The great thing about a Maryland expungement is the following:
- Maryland employers and educational institutions may not require you to disclose expunged information about yourself in order to qualify for employment or admission
- When applying for a state license, permit, or other registration, the state of Maryland cannot require you to disclose expunged information about yourself
This does not mean, however, that your criminal records disappear forever. Though they are sealed and cannot be viewed by anyone, expunged records are kept on file for the following reasons:
- Expunged records can be used against those seeking to run for public office
- Officials in the United States Military may request expunged records, should you attempt to enlist
How Do You Qualify for a Maryland Expungement of Criminal Records?
Expungement of your criminal record is not a guaranteed right in the United States. Rather, it is considered a privilege, and is only granted under certain circumstances.
Typically speaking, the outcome of your criminal case will determine whether you qualify for expungement in Maryland, regardless of whether the crime you committed was a felony or misdemeanor.
Under Maryland law, you may file for expungement under the following conditions:
- You were found not guilty of a crime
- Your criminal charges were dismissed
- You received a sentence of probation before judgment (except in certain alcohol-related cases)
- The prosecutor dropped your case before or during your trial
- Your case was indefinitely postponed (aka being placed in the “stet docket”)
- Your case started in adult court and was moved to juvenile court
That said, there are certain instances in which you cannot file for expungement in Maryland:
- You received probation before judgment for a crime and within three years you were convicted of a new crime
- You were found guilty of a criminal charge (in most cases)
- You have criminal charges pending against you
- Your probation before judgment deals with certain alcohol-related offenses, such as a DUI
- You were charged with multiple criminal offenses and only some of them qualify for expungement
As you can see, not everyone is eligible for expungement, as it is for deserving individuals. In fact, if you are convicted of a crime, the only way you may be eligible for expungement is if the crime was considered non-violent and the Governor of Maryland has agreed to pardon you.
Why Consider Filing for Expungement?
If you are not prone to extensive criminal activity, and simply made a poor decision in the past, it may be easy to convince yourself that it is best to just let it go as a lesson learned and move on. This however, does not protect you in the future from the long-lasting consequences of having a criminal record, no matter how minor you may feel it is.
Here are some of the lasting effects a criminal record can have on your future:
- Denial of employment, required job permits, or licensing
- Denial of housing benefits with a drug conviction of any kind
- Absolute divorce approval if convicted of a crime with at least 12 months jail time served
- Termination of parental rights
- Public access to all of your criminal records including crime descriptions and all court proceedings
- Revocation of your commercial driver’s license
- Denial of owning a firearm
- Termination of voting rights
- Denial of entry into the United States Military
- Possible deportation if not a United States citizen
- Loss of government funding for education, such as grants or federal loans
- Entry into the Maryland DNA database unless you receive a not guilty verdict, your case is dismissed, your conviction is reversed, or you receive an unconditional pardon
In the end, an expungement of criminal records will not apply to all of the above scenarios. However, for the sake of explanation, you can see how having a criminal record in Maryland can have far-reaching effects in your life.
So, if you have the opportunity to expunge those records, and save yourself the hassle of being denied for so many things, why not do it?
How to File for Expungement in Maryland
If you think you qualify for expungement, follow these steps to get started:
- Obtain a petition for Expungement of Police and Court Records and the General Waiver and Release form
- Gather the details of your case – case number, date of arrest, summons, or citation, the law enforcement agency that took action against you, the offense you were charged with, and the date your case was disposed
- Complete the forms and file them with the clerk of the Maryland District Court
- Include a copy of all forms for the State’s Attorney and each law enforcement agency named in the petition
- Pay the filing fees and wait for a Certificate of Compliance in the case of expungement completion
It is important to note that each agency you dealt with at the time of your arrest, summons, or citation must send you a Certificate of Compliance in order for your expungement to be considered complete.
Getting Proper Legal Help with Your Expungement Process
Cleaning up your criminal past may seem simple enough, but if you have been through the court system for a crime, you know better than anyone that criminal cases are anything but simple. Worse yet, having a criminal record in Maryland can make it difficult to get a better paying job, attend educational institutions, and even rent an apartment.
If you are looking for an experienced defense attorney in Maryland to help you with expunging your criminal record, look no further that Dilip Paliath, Esq. Understanding Maryland Criminal Code and the complex nature the expungement process can have at times, Dilip can help you every step of the way.
Dilip Paliath, Esq. can determine whether you are eligible for expungement and seal these records permanently. In addition, his expertise in defending individuals who have been accused of crimes gives him the knowledge and power to move through the courts in a quick and efficient manner.
Contact Dilip Paliath, Esq. today and see how he can help you remove your Maryland criminal records for good, so you can move forward and make a better life for yourself and those closest to you.