Sunday, October 25, 2015

Expunge or shield your record before the job application.

Dumb mistakes carry long-term consequences.  Your misdemeanor conviction as a teenager will prevent you from getting certain jobs well into adulthood. Tickytack convictions have effectively barred a large portion of the population from meaningful jobs. To recapture this workforce Maryland’s General Assembly enacted substantial changes to the way “convictions” for minor offenses affect those convicted.  Effective October 1, 2015, the changes will both increase the availability of expungements, and create a new kind of protection – shielding – which has previously not existed in Maryland.

Changes to the Expungement law
 Prior to October 1, 2015, the law in Maryland prohibited expungement in certain situations where a defendant was convicted of a separate offense after the otherwise expungeable event.  Changes to the law removes that prohibition for all situations except probations before judgment.

Additionally, the law has been changed to permit folks convicted of crimes which, since the conviction, are no longer crimes (for instance: possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana, which was decriminalized in 2014), to expunge the former convictions.

The new “shielding” law
Under the new law, for certain “minor” crimes, Maryland permits someone who has been convicted, to petition to have their conviction “shielded” from the public.  The petition may be filed, at the earliest, three years after the completion of all the terms of their probation, parole, or mandatory supervision.  Convictions of crimes for which “shielding” is available are:

·         Disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace
·         Failure to obey a reasonable and lawful order
·         Malicious destruction of property
·         Trespass on posted property
·         Misdemeanor theft
·         Possession of certain controlled and non-controlled substances
·         Possession of drug paraphernalia
·         Driving without a license
·         Driving while license is canceled, suspended, refused, or revoked
·         Driving while uninsured
·         Prostitution

 “Shielding” is different than “expungement.”  Whereas an expungement compels destruction of all records of the incident, “shielding” merely hides the conviction from public view.  The conviction is still available to the police, health occupations boards, and certain employers and institutions that are subject to a statutory or contractual requirement to inquire into criminal background.  However, as to the public, and potential employers or educators, the law makes it illegal to compel disclosure on an application or in an interview.  It also makes it illegal for a potential employer or educator to refuse hire or admit an applicant solely based on the refusal to disclose shielded convictions.

Clean up your record, expunge or shield the past and get that job!