What Maryland law has to say about clearing your criminal record – III

In today’s post, we’ll conclude our ongoing discussion of expungement, the legal process by which a person can seek to have previous encounters with law enforcement — arrests, citations, etc. — removed from their permanent criminal record.

To reiterate, the real value of the expungement process lies in its ability to give a person a fresh start and ensure that they aren’t unduly punished for a momentary lapse in judgment. Specifically, the removal of potentially detrimental criminal information can preserve their employment prospects, educational opportunities and even living arrangements.

Timelines for expungement aren’t necessarily sacrosanct  

Last time, we discussed how the general rule of thumb is that a person must wait three years before filing for expungement. However, an expungement petition can theoretically be filed any time prior to this and the court could theoretically grant the request if it finds that good cause has been shown.

It’s important to understand, however, that the State’s Attorney does have the option of filing an objection, in which case a hearing to decide whether the requisite good cause has been demonstrated would be held.

After the expungement petition is filed

If a person chooses to wait until the applicable waiting period has passed before filing their expungement petition, the State’s Attorney will be given 30 days to file an objection. Much like we discussed above, a hearing will be held to decide the matter if this occurs.

In the event the State’s Attorney has no objections to the expungement, the court will order it to proceed.

Other information to consider

Legal experts indicate that those people requesting an expungement should be certain to use broad language in their petition to ensure that any and all records of arrests, citations, detention, etc. are removed from state records. Failure to do so could mean that the court limits the expungement to only those records expressly referenced in the petition.

If you would like to learn more about your options regarding criminal charges in general, expungement or post-conviction relief, 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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