Thursday, March 14, 2013

Expungement in Maryland- Wiping your slate clean.

            Every time you are arrested or charged with a crime, it is recorded in the public records.  Even if you were never charged, the charges were dropped (or “nolle prossed”), or you were found “not guilty,” the records remain.
            Potential employers, neighbors, or anyone with a wandering curiosity can punch your name into the Maryland Case Search and see your record of arrests/charges.  Although you were never found guilty by a judge or a jury, the court of public opinion is not nearly as forgiving (remember, O.J. was acquitted, but we all remember how that went).

            Expungement is a mechanism that wipes away all stuff that didn’t “stick.”  The following cases are eligible for expungement: 

  •  You were found “not guilty”
  • Your charges were dismissed, or the State declined to prosecute (entered a "nolle prosequi")
  • Your case was placed on the inactive ("stet") docket
  • You were granted a full pardon by the Governor (somebody's got important friends, eh?)
  • You were given probation before judgment (except for DUI related offenses)

How do I do it?
For arrests:  If you were arrested prior to October 1, 2007, you must request an “Investigative Release Form” from the agency/department that arrested you.  If you were arrested after October 1, 2007, the records of your arrest are automatically expunged after 60 days.

For criminal charges:  Expungement requires the submission of a “petition for expungement” found at The Maryland Judiciary Website.  The fee is $30.

When do I file?
        If you were found not guilty, your charges were dismissed, or the State entered a nolle prosequi, you are eligible for expungement immediately, provided you file a general waiver and release.  Otherwise, you must wait 3 years. (The waiver and release gives up your right to sue the State for your wrongful arrest, detention, or prosecution—the applicable statute of limitations is three years).

       If you were given a probation before judgment, you are eligible for expungement 3 years after the judgment was entered, or the probation was completed, whichever is later.

       If your case was placed on the “stet” docket, you must wait three years to file for an expungement.

       Need help? Call me.