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What Maryland law has to say about clearing your criminal record - II

In a previous post, we examined the unfortunate reality that a person who has any sort of encounter with law enforcement -- arrest, citation, etc. -- will more than likely end up with a permanent criminal record, something that can jeopardize everything from employment prospects to living arrangements.

We also started examining how the law in Maryland does enable people to remove these otherwise undesirable elements from their permanent criminal record via the process of expungement.

In today's post, we'll continue discussing how this process works.

Expungement as it relates to nuisance crimes

It's important for people convicted or found Not Criminally Responsible for nuisance crimes (panhandling, loitering, vagrancy, etc.) to understand that these matters are not trivial, and can be expunged from their permanent criminal record.  

However, it's also important for them to know that this is not an option if they 1) are facing criminal charges in another criminal case or 2) have been convicted of another crime (more serious than a traffic violation) since the conviction for the underlying nuisance crime for which the expungement is sought.

Timelines for expungement

Those who are acquitted, saw their charges dropped or received a Nolle Prosequi order (i.e., the prosecutor decided to drop the case before or during trial) must typically wait three years before filing for expungement. However, they are permitted to file earlier if they also include a general release and waiver forfeiting any legal claims concerning their arrest or the events thereafter.    

For those whose case was placed on the "stet docket" (i.e., an inactive group of cases not typically reopened), expungement may not be pursued until three years after the judgment, while for those who received Probation Before Judgment, expungement cannot be pursued until the completion of the probation period or the passage of three years, whichever is longer.

Finally, those who are found Not Criminally Responsible must wait for three years since this finding before filing for expungement.

We'll continue to discuss this important topic in our next post.  

Whether you've been arrested for any sort of felony or misdemeanor, or would like to learn more about your options regarding expungement, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.

Source: The People's Law Library of Maryland, "Changing your criminal record," June 2014

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