Expunction

Under Maryland’s Criminal Procedure Article, anyone charged with the commission of a crime may file a petition for expungement listing the relevant facts of a police record, court record, or other record maintained by the State or a political subdivision of the State, under various circumstances listed in the statute.

During fiscal 2015, there were 32,726 petitions for expungement filed in the District Court and 2,448 petitions filed in the circuit courts in Maryland. The number of expungements received by the Maryland Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS) has steadily increased over the years. In fact, the District Court collected $748,326.50 in filing fees for petitions for expungement between September 1, 2015, and September 1, 2016, which was an increase over prior years.

The rules to expunge a record can be found in Criminal Procedure Article §§ 10-101 to 10-109 of the Annotated Code of Maryland. Expungement of a court record means removal from public inspection:

  • by obliteration;
  • by removal to a separate secure area to which persons who do not have a legitimate reason for access are denied access; and
  • if access to a court record or police record can be obtained only by reference to another such record, by the expungement of that record, or the part of it that provides access.

The grounds for an expunction include:

  • acquittal;
  • dismissal of charges;
  • entry of probation before judgment;
  • entry of nolle prosequi;
  • stet of charge, and
  • gubernatorial pardon.

If two or more charges, other than one for a minor traffic violation, arise from the same incident, transaction, or set of facts, they are considered to be a unit. If a person is not entitled to expungement of one charge or conviction in a unit, the person is not entitled to expungement of any other charge in the unit.


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Expunge a Public Nuisance Crime after Three Years

Anyone convicted of a crime that is no longer a crime or convicted or found not criminally responsible for specified public nuisance crimes are also eligible for expungement of the associated criminal records under certain circumstances.

For these public nuisance crimes, an individual may file a petition for expungement no earlier than three years after a finding of not criminally responsible and no earlier than three years after a conviction (or satisfactory completion of the sentence, whichever is later).


People Ineligible to Expunge a Record

A person is not entitled to expungement if:

  1. the petition is based on the entry of probation before judgment, except a probation before judgment for a crime where the act on which the conviction is based is no longer a crime, and the person within three years of the entry of the probation before judgment has been convicted of a crime other than a minor traffic violation or a crime where the act on which the conviction is based is no longer a crime; or
  2. the person is a defendant in a pending criminal proceeding.

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New Expunction Laws in Maryland

Effective on October 1, 2015, the Maryland legislature passed several laws that impacted expunction in Maryland including:

  • the expungement of a crime that is no longer a crime under SB 651, which expands eligibility for expungement to persons convicted of a crime that is no longer a crime, including the possession of fewer than 10 grams of marijuana;
  • the expunction of records under HB 304 which repeals the subsequent conviction rule, which prohibited the expungement of cases resulting in stet or nolle prosequi whenever the individual was subsequently convicted of a new offense. The new law does away with this rule and enables individuals to expunge eligible non-convictions regardless of any subsequent convictions.
  • the Section Chance Act under HB244 which allows individuals who have certain non-violent, misdemeanor criminal records to petition the court to shield court records and police records after a period of three years under specific circumstances and conditions. Shielded records still remain fully accessible to law enforcement and the court ensuring that the public’s safety is not compromised.

What is an Expungement under Maryland Law?

In Maryland, the relevant statutory provisions governing expungement are found in § 10–101– § 10–109, of the Criminal Procedure Article of the Maryland Code. These statutes allow an individual, who has been charged with the commission of a crime, as well as an individual who has been convicted of a crime, to file a petition seeking the “expungement of a police record, court record, or other record maintained by the State.”

The records are expunged in accordance with various conditions listed in § 10–102– § 10–104, of the Criminal Procedure Article of the Maryland Code.

“[B]ased upon statutorily defined entitlement, or the lack of it,” the court shall grant or deny the petition for expungement. The court observed in State v. Nelson, 156 Md.App. 558, 568, 847 A.2d 1184 (2004), “the [expungement] statute seems to lodge no discretion in the court, but to mandate either granting or denying the relief, based upon statutorily defined entitlement, or the lack of it.” Citing Ward v. State, 37 Md.App. 34, 36, 375 A.2d 41 (1977) (referring to the former Md. Ann.Code art. 27, § 737(e), repealed and reenacted by 2001 Md. Laws 10 at Md.Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 10–105(e) with new language but without substantive change).

If a “is convicted of only one criminal act, and that act is not a crime of violence; and is granted a full and unconditional pardon by the Governor…” then the person is eligible for an expungement of the record of that conviction, under Maryland law. Md.Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 10–105(a)(8) (i-ii).

An individual is eligible to have the record of a conviction expunged if that conviction was for one of the enumerated offenses in the expungement provisions of the Maryland code, which consist of minor, public nuisance type offenses. Md.Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 10–105(a)(9).

The minor offenses, which a person can petition to have expunged, include convictions from, any State, of the following offenses:

  • 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;
  • loitering;
  • vagrancy;
  • riding a transit vehicle without paying the applicable fare or exhibiting proof of payment; or
  • 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.”

Md.Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 10–105(a)(9).


Definition of “Law Enforcement Unit”

The definition of the term “law enforcement unit” is explained in Title 10, Subtitle 1, “Expungement of Police and Court Records.” That section defines the term “law enforcement unit” to mean “a State, county, or municipal police department or unit, the office of a sheriff, the office of a State’s Attorney, the Office of the State Prosecutor, or the Office of the Attorney General of the State.” CP § 10-101(f).


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Additional Resources

Expunge Criminal Record in Maryland – Information about removing Criminal Records in a guide designed to give you pertinent information concerning the removal of criminal records from public access in Maryland and to help you understand the process of filing for an expungement. The definition of expungement is the removal of records from public inspection. In Maryland, records may be expunged from 1) Motor Vehicle Administration files; 2) police files and 3) court files. You can find out more by reading Criminal Procedure Article §§ 10-101 to 10-109 of the Annotated Code of Maryland. The brochure on expunction of criminal records in Maryland was prepared by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs of the Maryland Judiciary and last revised on October 1, 2015.

Expungements in Maryland — Visit the website of the MD Department of Public Safety and Correctional to learn more about an expunction, expungement, or procedure to remove a court and police records from public inspection. This process should take no more than 90 days unless there is an objection or an appeal. Each case costs $30 to process, which is submitted, to the clerk at the time of application. Learn more about the expungement process and the Criminal Justice Information System-Central Repository.


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Find an Expungement Lawyer in Baltimore, Maryland

The criminal defense attorneys in Baltimore, Maryland, at James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, represent clients who want to expunge their criminal record. If you believe you are eligible, then call us to discuss your case.

With offices conveniently located in Arbutus and Catonsville, Maryland, our experienced expungement lawyer serves clients throughout the city and county of Baltimore and surrounding areas. Call James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates at 443-709-9999 today.