WHAT IS EXPUNGEMENT?
Expungement removes the information about a criminal offense from court and law enforcement records. It usually applies to records that did not result in a conviction, although some convictions will qualify. In order to do this, a petition must be
filed with the court where the crime occurred.
A judge must determine whether or not the petition can be granted.
But your case must meet certain conditions and a timeline first.
Time passed begins counting AFTER you complete your sentence (including probation) or court-ordered treatment.
WHY IS EXPUNGEMENT IMPORTANT?
There are many benefits to getting your criminal record expunged. Regardless of how much you have changed, and how much you are working to put your past behind you, your criminal record remains as a blemish that will create a barrier when seeking employment, housing, credit, or continuing your education. Although the process can be lengthy and somewhat daunting, it is well worth the effort. And we are here to help you.
CAN I HAVE A CONVICTION EXPUNGED?
For most offenses, no – if you have been convicted (found guilty), the records about that charge cannot be expunged.
There are some exceptions, so be sure to read all the information given here carefully to determine if you have records that can be expunged. It’s worth the time you’ll invest.
CAN A FELONY CHARGE BE EXPUNGED?
In general, the outcome or disposition of your case will determine whether a specific record can be expunged or not.
It doesn’t matter if your charge was a misdemeanor or a felony.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY RECORD CAN BE EXPUNGED?
In general – you are likely to be able to file for expungement of a record relating to a criminal charge if the case ended with the following and you have satisfied the waiting period requirement:
Not Guilty – You were acquitted or found not guilty
Dismissed – Your charge was dismissed
PBJ – You received Probation Before Judgement (except for certain alcohol related driving offenses)
Nolle Prosequi (Noll Pros) – A Nolle Prosequi was entered in your case. This happens when the prosecutor decides to drop the case either before or during trial.
Stet (STET) – Your case was placed on the “Stet docket” or indefinitely postponed.
Moved to Juvenile Court – Your case started in adult court but was moved to juvenile court. If you were originally charged as an adult and your case was transferred to juvenile court, you have two records – a criminal record and a juvenile record.l There is a different procedure to follow to expunge a juvenile record and you have two court records.
Not Criminally Responsible – for Nuisance Crimes defined in MD Code, Criminal Procedure 10-105 (a)(9)
Here’s the list of Nuisance Crimes:
- urination or defecation in a public place
- panhandling or soliciting money
- drinking an alcoholic beverage in a public place
- obstructing the free passage of another in a public place or a public conveyance
- sleeping on or in park structures, such as benches or doorways
- riding a transit vehicle without paying the fare or exhibiting proof of payment
- except for carrying or possessing an explosive, acid, concealed weapon, or other dangerous article as provided in 7-705(b)(6) of the Transportation Article, any of the acts specified in 7-705 of the Transportation Article.
Here’s Transportation Article 7-705
- Failure to pay fare in required manner
- Failure to pay applicable fare
- Failure to exhibit proof of payment
- Failure to provide truthful identification
- Expectorating (spitting) in transit vehicle, transit facility, or train
- Smoking or carrying lighted tobacco products in transit vehicle, transit facility, or train
- Consuming food or drink or carrying open food or beverage container in transit vehicle, transit facility, or train
- Discarding litter in transit vehicle, transit facility, or train
- Playing or operating radio, tape player, or similar electronic device in transit vehicle, transit facility, or train
- Carrying or possessing live animals in transit vehicle, transit facility, or train
- Boarding transit vehicle through rear door
- Urinating or defecating in transit vehicle, transit facility or train
- Failure to move to rear of transit when requested to do so
- Failure to vacate elderly or handicapped seat when requested to do so
- Except as by contract with the Mass Transit Administration, soliciting the purchase of goods or services in transit vehicle, transit facility, or train
- Obstructing/hindering/interfering with the operation or operator of transit vehicle or railroad passenger car
- You were found not criminally responsible for trespass, disturbing the peace, or telephone misuse.
YOU CAN DOWNLOAD A GUIDE TO EXPUNGEMENT OF NUISANCE CRIMES HERE
CAN I FILE FOR EXPUNGEMENT OF EARLIER COURT RECORDS IF I AM A DEFENDANT IN A CURRENT CASE?
No. If you are currently involved in a criminal case, you may not file for expungment of any records at this time.
WHAT IF I WAS ARRESTED AND NO CHARGE WAS EVER FILED AGAINST ME?
If you were arrested on or after October 1, 2007 and not charged with a crime, your arrest will be automatically expunged within 60 days of your release from custody.
If you were arrested before October 1, 2007, you may wish to contact the local arresting police department and ask them to clear the record.
WHAT IF MY CRIMINAL RECORD WAS FOR A CRIME THAT IS NO LONGER A CRIME?
There is NO WAITING PERIOD if you were found guilty of a crime that is no longer a crime.
You may request an expungement immediately.
Prior convictions for possession of marijuana can be expunged immediately, but the amount you were convicted of possessing must be less than ten (10) grams. If your conviction was for more than ten (10) grams of marijuana, you may request an expungement four (4) years after satisfactory completion of the sentence.
WHAT IS THE WAITING PERIOD TO FILE A PETITION FOR EXPUNGEMENT?
For most cases, you must wait three (3) years after your case was decided before you can file for expungement, but the rules vary based on the results of your particular case, so look closely at your records.
There are certain charges with a Guilty disposition that you may request an expungement for in no less than ten (10) years after the guilty conviction or the satisfactory completion of the sentence, including probation, whichever is later.
And there are certain charges with a Guilty disposition that you may request an expungement for in no less than fifteen (15) years after the guilty conviction or the satisfactory completion of the sentence, including probation, whichever is later.
ARE THERE ANY RECORDS THAT CAN BE EXPUNGED BEFORE THE THREE (3) YEAR WAITING PERIOD?
You may file before 3 years have passed IF you file a General Waiver and Release Form (FORM CC-DC-CR-078) – which is a general release and waiver of any and all people against whom you may have a legal claim as a result of your arrest – AND:
- You were found not guilty (“acquitted”); OR
- The state did not prosecute the charge against you (this is called “nolle prosequi”) or nolle prosequi with the requirement of drug or alcohol treatment is entered; OR
- Your case was dismissed.
NOTE: Filing a General Waiver and Release Form waives certain legal rights, so you might want to speak to a lawyer first.
YOU CAN DOWNLOAD A WORKSHEET TO HELP YOU EVALUATE YOUR COURT RECORDS
WHAT RECORDS CAN I EXPUNGE AFTER THE THREE (3) YEAR WAITING PERIOD?
You may file for expungement after 3 years have passed after a Guilty disposition or the satisfactory completion of the sentence, including probation, whichever is first if:
- You received Probation Before Judgement (PBJ) – except DUI/DWI – BUT your case cannot be expunged if you have another conviction after this one (except for a minor traffic offense OR if you are a defendant in another criminal case); or
- The court indefinitely postponed your case – which is called “Stet”; or
- The crime you were found Not Criminally Responsible for nuisance crimes listed in MD Code, Criminal Procedure 10-105(a)(9)
- You were found Not Criminally Responsible for trespass, disturbing the peace, or telephone misuse.
- Your were found Guilty of nuisance crimes listed in MD Code, Criminal Procedure 10-105(a)(9), including satisfactory completion of the sentence, including probation.
Refer to the list above
WHAT RECORDS CAN I EXPUNGE AFTER THE TEN (10) YEAR WAITING PERIOD?
You may file for expungement after 10 years have passed after a Guilty disposition or the satisfactory completion of the sentence, including probation, whichever is later, if you were convicted of:
- disorderly intoxication
- possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS)
- use or possession of drug paraphernalia
- unauthorized manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing of a CDS
- breaking and entering a motor vehicle
- general theft (MD. Code, Criminal Law 7-104)
- Larceny by trick
- Larceny after trust
- False pretenses
- Receiving stolen property
- littering and illegal dumping
- disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct
- This is a list of 26 misdemeanors that may not be filed before 10 years after the petitioner satisfies the sentence or sentences imposed for all convictions for which expungement is requested, including parole, probation, or mandatory supervision. These include articles related to alcoholic beverages; Business Occupations and Professions; Business Regulations; Court Articles; Commercial Law; Criminal Procedures; Criminal Law; Election Law; Family Law; Health Law; Human Services; Insurance Articles; Public Safety; Real Property; Tax Law; Common Law offenses of affray, rioting, criminal contempt, battery, hindering, conspiracy.
- NOTE: You may want assistance from an attorney
WHAT RECORDS CAN I EXPUNGE AFTER THE FIFTEEN (15) YEAR WAITING PERIOD?
You may file for expungement after 15 years have passed after a Guilty disposition or the satisfactory completion of the sentence, including probation, whichever is later, if you were convicted of:
- assault in the second degree
- violation of an interim peace order
- failure to comply with a protective order
ARE THERE ANY SITUATIONS WHERE I CANNOT FILE FOR EXPUNGEMENT?
Yes. Generally, you cannot get records expunged for the following reasons:
- If you received a PBJ, and were later convicted of a new crime within 3 years of the PBJ, you cannot get the PBJ expunged – unless the new conviction was a minor traffic violation or something that is no longer a crime.
- You cannot get a PBJ expunged if the PBJ was for certain alcohol related driving offenses.
- You cannot file for expungement of ANY records if you currently have criminal proceedings pending against you.
- If you are convicted of a crime during the specified waiting period, you are not eligible for expungement unless the subsequent conviction becomes eligible for expungement
- The court has no authority to expunge aliases or grant an expungement in cases of identity theft.
WHAT IS THE UNIT RULE?
If you were charged with more than one offense based on the same incident, transaction, or set of facts – you can only have records from that case expunged if ALL of the charges from that incident are eligible for expungement.
So, if you have three separate charges based upon the same incident and one was expungeable but the other two were not, none of them are expungeable.
It’s all or nothing.
ARE THERE ANY EXCEPTIONS TO THE UNIT RULE?
Yes. The only exception to the Unit Rule is for minor traffic violations. No matter what the outcome of the minor traffic violation – even if you are convicted of it – it will not affect your ability to get the other related records expunged, if they qualify.
IS THERE A FEE FOR FILING FOR EXPUNGEMENT?
In District Court only, there is no charge to expunge a verdict of:
- probation before judement (PBJ)
- nolle prosequi
- stet, or
- not criminally responsible disposition.
Use Form CC-DC-CR-072A to file for this type of expungement request.
YOU CAN DOWNLOAD FORM CC-DC-CR-072A PETITION FOR EXPUNGEMENT OF RECORDS FOR ACQUITTAL, DISMISSAL, PROBATION BEFORE JUDGEMENT, NOLLE PROSEQUI, STET,OR NOT CRIMINAL RESPONSIBLE DISPOSITIONS HERE
The filing fee is $30 for eligible guilty dispositions and is nonrefundable, even if denied. This fee is for each case (NOT for each charge related within a unit of the case).
WHAT DO I DO IF I CANNOT AFFORD THE FILING FEE?
You must “prepay” court filing fees up front, before the court can open your case. If you are unable to pay the court filing fees, you can ask the court to waive the fees at the beginning of the case.
In order to do this, submit your request to waive the fees with the expungement request you intend to file. If the court grants your request, the court will accept the filing and begin your case.
The court will base its decision for fee waiver on the Maryland Legal Services Corporation’s Client Income Eligibility Guidelines.
YOU CAN DOWNLOAD A COPY OF INCOME ELIGIBILITY GUIDELINES HERE
If you feel you will qualify for a fee waiver, fill out a Request of Fee Waiver for Prepaid Costs and submit with your documents.
YOU CAN DOWNLOAD A COPY OF REQUEST OF FEE WAIVER FOR PREPAID COSTS HERE
This waiver just removes the requirement that you pay the fees “up front.” You will have to pay the court fees at the end of the case. If you are required to pay fees and costs at the end of the case, you may ask the court for a final waiver of costs at that time.
Follow these steps to ask the court to waive the requirement that you pay the fees “up front.”
- Prepare your expungement paperwork
- Complete the Request for Waiver of Prepaid Costs.
- File your documents, including the Request for Waiver of Prepaid Costs, with the clerk’s office in the proper court. No fee is required at this time.
- The judge will review your request and decide whether or not to grant you the waiver. A copy of the judge’s order will be mailed to you.
- If the request is GRANTED, the clerk’s office will accept your filing and begin the case.If the request is DENIED, follow the instructions on the order to pay the fee so your case can begin. You have 10 days to pay the fee. If you do not pay the fee as required, your case will be considered to have been withdrawn and no further action will be taken by the court.
- If the request is DENIED, follow the instructions on the order to pay the fee so your case can begin. You have 10 days to pay the fee. If you do not pay the fee as required, your case will be considered to have been withdrawn and no further action will be taken by the court.
I THINK I HAVE EXPUNGEABLE RECORDS. NOW WHAT?
If you think you have criminal records that can be cleaned up, you can use this website to help file your expungement. This website will help you determine eligibility of records and give you step-by-step instructions on how to file your request for expungement.
If you need help, contact us through the Contact form, phone, email, or CHAT. We’ll do our best to help. Remember, even if you can’t expunge everything, cleaning up what you can from your record will help!
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Use this checklist to help you evaluate whether or not you can expunge a record. >>EXPUNGEMENT CHECKLIST<<