Can a domestic violence case be kept out of the public eye?

There are many criminal charges that can affect a defendant’s life. For example, a charge for domestic violence can affect someone’s job, social circles, and familial responsibilities. In most criminal cases, the public can access the case record once the case has been completed. For some individuals, this could cause significant problems down the road.

In Maryland, you can seek to have the court limit the public’s access to your case record; however, there are some specific requirements. These are:

— You were not found guilty of a crime.

— There is no temporary or pending protective or peace order between you and the other party.

— There are no criminal charges pending against you that relate to the other party.

— There was no final protective or peace order issued against you that relates to the other party.

If, and only if, the above four statements apply to you, then you may move onto the next six statements that must also apply to you:

— The other party in the case agrees to keep the record closed.

— During the time that the protection or peace order was in place, you didn’t violate the terms of it.

— You haven’t been found guilty of any crime involving the other party.

— There are no pending or temporary protective or peace orders against you.

— You don’t have any criminal charges pending.

— There was no other final protective or peace order in place at any time involving the other party.

If three years have passed since the judge dismissed or denied the protective or peace order, then you can ask that the public not be allowed to access the case record. You can also seek to have the record closed earlier than that if you file a General Waiver and Release form.

As you can see, limiting the public’s access to your case record can be complex. An attorney experienced in Maryland criminal law can give you more information on whether your case will qualify for having the public denied access.

Source: Maryland Access to Justice Commission, “Can I keep the public from seeing information about me in a peace or protective order case?,” accessed July 22, 2015