WHY DO I NEED TO CLEAN UP MY CRIMINAL RECORD?
Cleaning up your criminal record may be one of the most important things you can do to help reach your goals for your future. This can not be stressed enough.
Your criminal record tells a story about you that may no longer be true. A story that you are working hard to put behind you. A story that should not define your life. You’ve paid your debt to society and are trying to move forward to become a productive and valued part of your community.
Or maybe you were unfairly charged and your charges were dropped, you were found not guilty, or your case was indefinitely postponed. Those records still remain in the court records and are available for anyone to see. Anyone.
If you were charged as an adult and your case was later moved to juvenile court, you will have two records and two processes to look at.
WHAT’S ON 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).
Here’s what’s in the record:
- Generally, any arrest or citation will show up on your criminal record regardless of what happened later in court. Your record will show the arrest or citation even if:
- your case was Dismissed
- you were Acquitted – found Not Guilty
- Probation Before Judgment was entered
- a Nolle Prosequi was entered in your case – when the prosecutor decides to drop the case either before or during trial
- your case was placed on a “Stet dock”– indefinitely postponed
- If you were found Guilty or Paid a Fine after being arrested, that will appear on your records as a conviction.
HOW DO I CLEAN UP MY CRIMINAL RECORD?
There are three ways that a criminal record can be cleaned up, but each case must meet certain criteria in order to be eligible.
- Expungement – is the most common way but has very strict guidelines to follow for eligibility.
- Sheilding – can only be done in one court and only once in a lifetime.
- Pardon – the governor can also pardon – which is extremely rare.