The ability to obtain expungement in relation to many criminal cases was extremely limited until Maryland’s new expungement law – the Justice Reinvestment Act – went into effect on October 1, 2017. Prior to the Justice Reinvestment Act, pursuant to Md. Criminal Procedure Code Ann. § 10-105, those eligible for expungement are:
If the Governor granted you an unconditional pardon in the past 10 years;
The act on which you conviction was based is no longer a crime (e.g. convictions for possession of marijuana under 10 grams);
If a court finds good cause;
The case filed against you initially in criminal court was then transferred to juvenile court;
If 3 years have passed or you’re willing to sign a General Waiver and Release, and:
You were found not guilty/acquitted; or,
The State nolle prossed or dismissed the charges against you.
If 3 years have passed and:
You received probation before judgment (except DUI/DWI)
The court indefinitely postponed you case (referred to as “stet”); or
The crime you were convicted of was
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 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.
NOTE: Your case cannot be expunged if you received probation before judgment AND you have a subsequent conviction other than a minor traffic offense or you are a defendant in a criminal case.
On October 1, 2017, the Justice Reinvestment Act went into effect, which permits individuals to obtain expungement of many types of convictions, including the fairly common offense of second-degree assault, and therefore restore their Second Amendment rights. With few exceptions, you have to be conviction/charging free for a period of 10 years. However, for those with domestic violence-related second-degree assault, the individual is only eligible if he/she stays conviction free for 15 years. It is important to understand that the time requirement only begins to accrue from the later of the date of release or completion of probation. Thus, if a person is sentenced to a year in jail and two years of probation, the waiting period for expungement only begins to toll when both the jail and probation periods have expired.
Those eligible for expungement under the Justice Reinvestment Act include those who were convicted of:
The common law offense of affray, rioting, criminal contempt or hindering.
An attempt, conspiracy or solicitation of any of the aforementioned crimes.
Must you disclose an expungement?
Pursuant to Md. Criminal Procedure Code Ann. § 10-109, a Maryland employer or educational institutional may not require, as a condition of employment or admission, that you disclose expunged information about yourself. Additionally, the State of Maryland may not require you to disclose expungement information when you apply for a state license, permit or other registration. However, you may be required to provide information about expunged cases in certain other circumstances not governed by Maryland law.
If you are not eligible for expungement and desire either to clear your record or restore your civil liberties, including Right to Keep and Bear Arms, you can apply to the Governor for a pardon. As stated by the Md. Parole Commission: Maryland prohibits persons convicted of any “disqualifying crime,” which includes any crime of violence, felony, or “any violation classified as a misdemeanor in the State that carries a statutory penalty of more than 2 years,” from possessing a “regulated firearm.” See §§ 5-101(g), 5-133(b)(1), (b)(2) of the Public Safety Article. Relief is available only by means of a pardon
While many believe it is impossible to obtain a pardon, in reality, with proper legal advice and guidance, pardons are frequently granted, depending on the underlying offense, amount of time since the offense, and what you have done to improve/rehabiltate yourself.
To be eligible for a pardon, you cannot be incarcerated.
For those with misdemeanor convictions, you must be crime-free from the date of sentence, release from incarceration, or release from parole or probation whichever last occurred, for a period of five years.
For those with felony convictions,
Generally, you must be crime-free from the date of sentence, release from incarceration, or release from parole or probation, whichever last occurred for ten years; however, the Parole Commission may, at its discretion and in specific instances, consider cases in which only seven years have elapsed.
However, felons convicted of crimes of violence as defined in Article 27, Section 643B and felons convicted of controlled dangerous substance violations must be crime-free from the date of sentence, release from incarceration, or release from parole or probation, whichever last occurred, for twenty years; however, the Parole Commission may, at its discretion and in specific instances, consider cases in which only fifteen years have elapsed.
If you are granted a pardon and desire to have the underlying offense expunged, it is important to note that pursuant to Md. Criminal Procedure Code Ann. § 10-105(c)(3), “a petition for expungement based on a full and unconditional pardon by the Governor may not be filed later than 10 years after the pardon was signed by the Governor.”