Until quite recently, the answer to that question was a resounding “no” except for some very minor crimes more akin to municipal offenses. Perhaps the paradigmatic example was "public urination" - a "crime" in name only, most often related to the influence of some form of mind altering substance, and very infrequently related to any criminal intent. In the fall of 2017, some sweeping changes were made that may give new lease on life to, or at least greatly enhance the employment prospects of, those with a distant criminal past. The language of new statue recites that expungement is mandatory in the absence of a timely filed objection to it. Maryland law now allows for the expungement of conviction of the following crimes, among others:
- § 3–203 of the Criminal Law Article [second degree assault];
- § 5–601, § 5–618, § 5–619, § 5–620 of the Criminal Law Article [CDS and paraphernalia related crimes];
- § 6–105 of the Criminal Law Article;
- § 7–104 of the Criminal Law Article [simple theft];
- § 8–103 of the Criminal Law Article [bad check];
- § 10–110 of the Criminal Law Article [some littering offenses];
- § 11–306(a) of the Criminal Law Article [prostitution];
- § 12–102 of the Criminal Law Article [betting and wagering];
Source: Section 10-110 of the Criminal Procedure Article.
With respect to all of the listed offense [ and some others], save two, “a petition for expungement may not be filed earlier than 10 years after the person satisfies the sentence or sentences imposed for all convictions for which expungement is requested, including parole, probation, or mandatory supervision” Id. A petition for expungement for an assault [§ 3–203 ] “or for an offense classified as a domestically related crime under § 6–233 of the Criminal Procedure Article may not be filed earlier than 15 years after the person satisfies the sentence or sentences imposed for all convictions for which expungement is requested, including parole, probation, or mandatory supervision.” Id.
There are some additional requirements:
- If the petitioner has pending charges, they will not receive an expungement.
- If the petitioner is again convicted of a listed crime during the waiting period, he or she may not receive an expungement until the more recent conviction becomes eligible for expungement.
- If a petitioner is convicted of two or more crimes arising from the same transaction or occurrence, some of which may be expunged, some of which may not, they will not receive an expungement.
This third requirement has proven problematic for those seeking their second chance. The State must show the two convictions must arrive from the same relatively simultaneously or contemporaneously occurring events. If so, and one of those convictions is "expungeable", and one is not, the Court will typically deny the request.
_This Article was updated by Eric Kirk on 11/6/20.