What is expungement?
Under Maryland law, there are several ways to "clean up" parts of your criminal record. Expungement is a process that lets you ask the court to remove certain kinds of court and police records from public view. Expungement generally applies to records that did not result in a conviction, but several specific types of conviction can also be expunged. There are minimum waiting times before filing for expungement depending on how the case ended.
NOTE: If a private database has information about your public record, expungement will not remove it from their database.
Read the law: Md. Code, Criminal Procedure, Title 10, Subtitle 1
Any records held by the police, court, or other state agency related to a cannabis possession charge may qualify for automatic expungement. If a charge resulted in a disposition of acquittal, dismissal, not guilty, or nolle prosequi (except a nolle prosequi with a requirement of drug or alcohol treatment), the records will be automatically expunged after 3 years. The court will send a notice to the person entitled to the expungement at their last known address.
Read the rule: Md. Rule 4-508.1
Note: Automatic expungements apply to dispositions after October 1, 2021.
What is included in my criminal record?
A criminal record includes information from Maryland Judiciary Case Search, as well as your official RAP (“Record of Arrests and Prosecutions”) sheet from the Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS). Some charges (where the disposition is acquitted, dismissed, nolle prosequi, or not guilty) may not show up in Case Search. This does not mean that those charges do not exist. They are still part of your criminal record. For the expungement process, you may wish to look at both sources to determine your eligibility for expungement.
Read the law: Md. Code, Criminal Procedure § 10-401
If you have pending warrants, you may wish to seek legal help to deal with those before contacting CJIS.
Generally, any arrest or citation will show up on your criminal record regardless of what happened later in court. This means that your public criminal record may show good outcomes like being found innocent or bad outcomes like being found guilty.
Your record will show the arrest or citation even if:
Your case was dismissed; or
You were acquitted (found not guilty); or
Probation Before Judgment was entered; or
A Nolle Prosequi was entered in your case (This occurs when the prosecutor decides to drop the case either before or during trial. Lawyers commonly refer to this as a “noll pros”); or
The case was placed on the “stet docket,” an inactive group of cases which often are not reopened.
If you were found guilty or paid a fine after being arrested, that will appear on your records as a conviction.
You can get a copy of your criminal record from the Criminal Justice Information System.
Why is it important to expunge a criminal record?
Many organizations, businesses, and agencies require a background check for applicants. Having criminal charges on your record can hinder:
applications to schools and colleges,
other government services.
Information about about how your criminal record may affect you is available through the National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction (NICCC). ref. The Peoples Law Library Of Maryland.
It's very important for you to have a knowledgable lawyer on your side to navigate your expungement to clear your record!
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