Is My Conviction Eligible for Expungement?
Most people understand that misdemeanor crimes are typically less serious than felonies. While this is true, it doesn’t mean that a misdemeanor conviction is something to take lightly. In addition to requiring fines and possible jail time, a conviction is usually a permanent fixture on a criminal record.
Before you start looking for ways to remove a misdemeanor from your criminal record, remember that most criminal convictions cannot be expunged. The law has recently been changed to allow for the expungement of an expanded class of convictions, but only after substantial [10 or 15 years] waiting periods, as discussed below. If your case was dismissed, or you were acquitted or placed on probation before judgment or offered a stet, your charge may be expunged. If you were acquitted or the case is dismissed, you'd need to wait three years, or waive any civil claim against the state, and then file immediately. You typically have to wait for either 3 years, or the successful completion of probation, whichever first occurs, if given a PBJ. If you were given a stet, you'd typically need to wait three years before filing a petition for expungement. Your offense may also be expunged if it is on your record as a result of a clerical error. If you were cleared of a charge before beginning a trial, you might assume that your record is clear. However, since real, living people are in charge of maintaining your record, and there is always the possibility of human error, the offense could remain visible to those searching your record. Even though this is a clerical error, you may need to go through the expungement process to get the misdemeanor removed.
In addition to the scenarios above, there are historically some minor misdemeanor convictions that are eligible for expungement, after the standard waiting period, under Maryland law:
- Public urination
- Open container
- Passed out in a public park
- Hopping a bus
- Vagrancy or loitering
- Possession of marijuana
If you have one of the above offenses on your record, you can file a petition for expungement. You may be required to wait for a period of time- typically three years. To qualify, you cannot have been convicted of any crime since, and you cannot currently be a defendant in a pending trial.
Maryland law has recently changed to allow for the expungement of certain other more serious offenses but has imposed substantial additional waiting periods.
- General Theft [10 years from sentence completion]
- CDS Possesion [10 years from sentence completion]
- 2nd Degree Assault [15 years from sentence completion] .
If you’re ready to start the expungement process, or you’re curious whether you’re eligible, contact Eric T. Kirk to discuss your options.