How to Expunge my Public Records in Maryland

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Deleting a public record refers to the process of making a record inaccessible in all its forms to anyone public or private. Maryland makes no provisions for citizens to delete their public records. However, under specific circumstances, individuals may be able to shield public records from view. When records are shielded from view, it is inaccessible to the general public but may be accessed in limited situations by law enforcement agencies or obtaining a court order. Shielded records can also have the effect of erasure on the public record history of an individual. This means certain restrictions that may have hindered the subject of a record, such as finding a job, obtaining a license, or voting rights can be restored by erasing or shielding a previous record.

What is a Public Record in Maryland?

According to the Maryland Public Information Act, Maryland defines a public record as the original or copy of any documentary material in any form created or received by an agency in connection with the transaction of public business. These include written materials, books, photographs, photocopies, films, microfilms, records, tapes, computerized records, maps, drawings, and other materials. The Act grants the public the right to inspect and copy public records without having to present the reason for a request. Public records include:

  • Birth records
  • Death records
  • Licensing records
  • Court records
  • Budgets
  • Statistical data
  • Voting records

Note that not all government records are publicly available. The PIA attempts to balance the public's right to access government records with other policies that respect the privacy or confidentiality of certain information. Commonly exempted records from public disclosure include:

  • Adoption records
  • Medical information
  • Confidential commercial information and trade secrets
  • Any record in which disclosure is considered to be contrary to the interest of the public, such as investigatory records, information related to academic, licensing, and employment examinations

Maryland allows public access to government records in order to remain transparent to citizens and the general public in the actions and decisions of the government at all levels in the state. This can also help engender more participation in government by all citizens. Maryland affords citizens the privilege to live without fear of discrimination related to a public record by obtaining a court order permitting record sealing in some instances. We also offer record-sealing service to Maryland citizens who wish to start new lives without the handicap of previous misdemeanors.

Does Maryland allow Expungement?

Yes. Eligible Maryland citizens may appeal to have their criminal records expunged under the Maryland Code, Criminal Procedure § 10-110. Expungement in Maryland removes information about a case from court and law enforcement records. Maryland allows records to be expunged from Motor Vehicle Administration records, police records, and court and police records. Each process removes very specific files and must be carried out through the proper agency. Expungement for arrest records must be done based on the date of arrest and in line with the disposition. No single process expunges the records from all agencies in Maryland.

Several public driving records are automatically expunged, depending on the offense for which an individual was convicted and the length of the time since the individual's last conviction. For police records where no charges were filed, persons who were arrested on or after October 1, 2007, but not charged with a crime will have their records automatically expunged within 60 days of release from custody. However, persons arrested before that date must petition the arresting agency for the expunction of such records. The Maryland Code requires that the petition be made no later than eight years after the date of the incident.

A Maryland resident can have both court and police records if:

  • Arrested and charged with a crime, including a traffic violation for which a term of imprisonment may be imposed
  • Charged with a civil offense or infraction as a substitute for a criminal charge

In such instances, court records will not be automatically expunged. To remove these records, an individual must file a petition for expungement with the court if:

  • Charges were dismissed
  • Charges were dropped by the plaintiff or prosecutor (nolle prosequi)
  • They were determined not guilty by a judge or jury.
  • The court indefinitely postponed the case, or the district attorney failed to prosecute the case ("stet docket")
  • The case was settled by a plea bargain.
  • They were placed on probation without judgment except in DUI/DWI cases.
  • They were granted a pardon by the Governor.
  • The case started in an adult court but was later moved to a juvenile court

Maryland citizens with criminal records cannot petition for expungement if:

  • They have received a probation before judgment (PBJ) and have a subsequent conviction within three years of the PBJ other than a minor traffic infraction.
  • Individuals who are currently a defendant in a criminal case are also ineligible for expunction.
  • They were convicted of a crime during the waiting period except if the latter conviction becomes eligible for expunction

Note that persons who were charged with more than one offense stemming from the same incident or set of facts may only have records from that case expunged if all the charges from the incident are eligible for expunction. The only exception to this rule (referred to as the Unit Rule) is for minor traffic infractions. Generally, a minor traffic violation does not affect a person's ability eligibility to obtain an expunction of other related records.

Maryland ex-offenders found guilty of eligible charges may request expungement after the expiration of the statute of limitations on the offense. The statute of limitation on eligible offenses listed below is usually three years from the guilty conviction or the satisfactory fulfillment of the sentence or probation, whichever is later. Eligible offenses include:

  • Loitering
  • Vagrancy
  • Panhandling
  • Sleeping on or in park structures
  • Riding a transit conveyance without paying the applicable fare
  • Obstruction the free passage of another person in a public place
  • Drinking an alcoholic beverage in a public area
  • Urinating or defecation in a public place
  • Certain types of transportation charges as stated in the Maryland transportation code (Transportation § 7-705)

Persons found guilty of the under-listed charges may petition for an expunction no less than ten years after the guilty conviction or the conclusion of the sentence, or a probationary period, whichever is later:

  • Illegal manufacturing, distributing or dispensing of a CDS
  • Breaking and entering a motor vehicle
  • General theft
  • Disorderly intoxication
  • Illegal dumping and littering
  • Disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct
  • Possession of a controlled dangerous substance
  • Use or possession of drug paraphernalia

The statute of limitation for the under-listed offenses is fifteen years after conviction or fulfillment of the terms of the associated sentence, whichever is later:

  • Violation of an interim peace order
  • Assault in the second-degree
  • Burglary in the first, second, or third-degree
  • Felony theft
  • Failure to comply with a protective order
  • Possession with intent to distribute or dispense a controlled dangerous substance

The full list of charges that can be expunged is published under Article § 10-110 of the Maryland Code of Criminal Procedure.

How do I Expunge My Criminal Record in Maryland?

The procedure of getting a criminal record expunged in Maryland begins with the applicant completing a Petition for Expungement of records form. Maryland has two separate kinds of expungement forms for petitioners. Form CC-DC-CR-072A must be used for expungement of acquittals, dismissals, probation before judgment, nolle-prosequi, stet, and other not-criminally responsible dispositions. Form CC-DC-CR-072B must be used for expungements of eligible guilty dispositions. Copies of both forms may also be obtained from any of Maryland District Court or Circuit Courts. The same form is used in the District and Circuit Courts. Applicants may need to obtain their criminal records from the CJIS to complete the application form correctly.

Persons applying with Form CC-DC-CR-072A are not required to pay any processing fee. However, ex-offenders who apply with Form CC-DC-CR-072B must pay a non-refundable fee of $30. Note that the $30 fee is for each case and not each charge related within a unit of the case. Individuals who cannot afford the fee may request a waiver. To access a waiver, applicants must complete and submit the General Waiver and Release Form along with their application. The General Waiver and Release form is required if an applicant's petition is based on acquittal, a nolle-prosequi, or dismissal and is intended to be filed within three years of the disposition. The form releases all persons and agencies from any claims regarding an arrest or detention.

Completed forms must be filed with the clerk in the court where a case was resolved. Persons with multiple cases in different courts have to file a separate petition in each court. The application must include extra copies for the State Attorney and each law enforcement agency named in the petition.  After filing a petition and the State Attorney receives a copy, the petitioner is expected to receive a notification within 30 days if there is an objection to the petition. Maryland law expects the entire expungement process to be completed within 90 days but may take a longer period to conclude.

Persons arrested but released without being charged (RWOC) who did not have to appear in court can expunge arrest records by:

  • Visiting the arresting agency where the arrest occurred
  • Request the appropriate form(s) according to the agency's procedure to have the date of arrest and charge removed from the criminal history record. The Released Without Charges Form is also available on the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services website.

The following information is required at the time of application:

  • Full name and any alias that may have been used at the time of the arrest
  • Current address (If an applicant has moved during the process, the individual must contact all parties to ensure receipt of the Certificate of Compliance)
  • Applicant's gender
  • Date of birth
  • Date of arrest
  • The case number and tracking number
  • Arresting agency

Will My Expungement Record Show up on a Background Check in Maryland?

Once the Maryland Criminal Justice Information Systems (CJIS) expunges a record in the Maryland Central Repository, expunged records will not show up on standard background checks including on non-FCRA Compliant background checks. Note that the CJIS is allowed up to 60 days of the court order to expunge a record from its database. The court does not process expungement for the FBI system; hence the records may remain on the FBI system until the Bureau expunges it from their database. Typically, the CJIS notifies the FBI to expunge the records from their database after complying with the expungement order. If an employer or company conducting a background check does not process it through the State of Maryland, an individual may ask the employer to have a fingerprint-supported check done through the CJIS for a more accurate record check.

How to Seal a Record in Maryland

Expungement in Maryland is different from shielding. Shielding is the process which makes criminal record unavailable in searches done on the Maryland Judiciary Case Search system. In other words, shielding seals a criminal record and makes it unavailable to the public.  Note that shielding does not eliminate your criminal record. It removes court and police records of a conviction for certain types of crimes from public view. Maryland ex-offenders are only granted one shielding petition over a lifetime.

To be eligible for shielding, three years must have passed after an individual has fully satisfied the sentence imposed for all convictions for which shielding is requested, including probation, parole, or mandatory supervision. Eligible persons are only permitted to:

  • Petition only one court (either a District Court or Circuit Court)
  • File a shielding petition in only one county
  • Include all eligible convictions on one petition. That is, all qualifying convictions from one court in one county on one petition.

The court will not accede to a shielding request if:

  • Other convictions in the "unit" or set of related charges do not qualify for shielding.
  • The petitioner has been convicted of a new crime during the three-year waiting phase.
  • The conviction for which shielding is requested was for a crime that is "domestically-related."
  • The petitioner is a defendant in a current criminal matter

The only types of conviction eligible for shielding in Maryland are:

  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Disturbing the Peace
  • Failure to Obey a Reasonable and Lawful Order
  • Malicious Destruction of Property in the Lesser Degree
  • Trespass on Posted Property
  • Possession or Administering a Controlled Dangerous Substance
  • Possession or Administering a Non-controlled Dangerous Substance
  • Use of or Possession with Intent to Use Drug Paraphernalia
  • Driving without a License
  • Driving While Privilege is Canceled, Suspended, Refused, or Revoked
  • Driving While Uninsured
  • Prostitution

To file a petition for shielding:

  • Complete the Petition For Shielding Under Maryland Second Chance Act Form.
  • File the completed form with the Circuit or District Court where the case was concluded
  • The Court then serves the petition for shielding on the State's Attorney's Office and sends written notice to all listed victims in the case(s) in which shielding is being requested. The State's Attorney's Office has 30 days to file an objection. In addition, the
  • victim(s) has the right to object or offer additional information relevant to the petition for shielding in all proposed actions.
  • If an objection is filed, the Court will hold a hearing. If no objection is filed, a Judge will grant or deny the petition.
  • The Court will issue an Order for Shielding for each case listed where shielding was granted

Who Can See My Sealed Record in Maryland?

A shielded record must remain fully accessible to:

  • Criminal justice units for legitimate criminal justice purposes
  • Prospective or current employers or government licensing agencies that are subject to a statutory or regulatory requirement or authorization to inquire into the criminal background of an applicant or employee for purposes of carrying out the requirement or authorization
  • A person that is authorized or required to inquire into an individual’s criminal background under Section 5-561 of the Family Law Article
  • The person who is the subject of the shielded record and the person's attorney
  • Health occupations boards established under the Health Occupations Article
  • The Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Cannabis Commission established under Title 13, Subtitle 33 of the Health-General Article
  • A person that uses volunteers who care for or supervise children
  • A person that attests under penalty of perjury that the person employs or seeks to employ an individual to care for or supervise a minor or vulnerable adult, as defined in Section 3-604 of the Criminal Law Article
  • A person who is accessing a shielded record on behalf of and with written authorization from an entity described in any of the above

How to Delete Bankruptcy Records in Maryland

Bankruptcy is the point at which a business or individual files a legal proceeding for inability to pay all or some of the debts owed. In order to maintain transparency in government, bankruptcy records are not permitted to be deleted. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was set forth to promote accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in the files of consumer reporting agencies. Bankruptcy records are open records and can be accessed even through non-FCRA compliant records check services. Credit reporting agencies will provide required records to anyone considered to have a permissible purpose. Such persons include:

  • Potential lenders or creditors
  • Landlords
  • Potential employers
  • Insurance companies
  • Companies monitoring your accounts for identity theft
  • Government agencies (although they may only be allowed to view certain portions)
  • Companies needing your credit history for a product or service you have requested
  • State or local child support agency

However, before your credit record can be disclosed to anyone, the individual or entity must disclose their request and obtain your authorization. Maryland also protects the interests of residents through its Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act which allows residents to dispute the information on their credit files. If you have reasons to believe that the information contained in your credit file is inaccurate or incomplete, you can resolve the matter directly with the consumer credit reporting agency. If you are dissatisfied with the results, you may file a written complaint with the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation.

Where there are no inaccuracies on an individual’s credit file, a bankruptcy record will only be removed after the expiration of the time limitation on the record. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy record will remain on file for 10 years while a Chapter 13 bankruptcy typically stays on record for seven years before being automatically deleted.

What are Consumer Protection Laws in Maryland?

The Maryland Consumer Protection Act (CPA) was enacted to set minimum statewide standards for the protection of consumers in Maryland. The Act seeks to prevent unlawful consumer practices in the marketplace and assist consumers in obtaining relief from these practices. The focus of the Act covers a wide range of products and services, encompassing the sale, lease, rental, loan, or bailment of any consumer goods, consumer realty, or consumer services.

Section 13-201 of the Consumer Protection Act establishes the Division of Consumer Protection (DCP) in the Office of the Attorney General. The statute empowers the DCP to administer the CPA by granting it the power to investigate complaints and allegations of unfair and deceptive trade practices. An administrative investigation pursuant to the CPA is initiated either by the DCP on its own initiative or after a consumer files a complaint. The Maryland CPA has helped reined in businesses trying to take advantage of consumers.

Maryland also models its Online Consumer Protection Act after the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) in its effort to protect consumer rights in the state. The Act requires certain businesses that collect a consumer's personal information to provide certain clear and conspicuous notices to the consumer at or before the point of collection. Specifically, the Act establishes for consumers the right to:

  • Know whether and what personal information is collected or disclosed by a business
  • Access and obtain a copy of personal information collected by a business
  • Have personal information deleted by a business
  • Stop a business from disclosing information to third parties
  • Equal service and pricing, regardless of whether the consumer has exercised his or her rights under the Act

Any violation of the Maryland Online Consumer Protection Act is considered an unfair, abusive, or deceptive trade practice under the Maryland Consumer Protection Act (MCPA) and is subject to the MCPA's civil and criminal penalty provisions.

Other consumer protection laws in Maryland include:

  • Maryland Lemon Laws
  • Maryland Identity theft laws
  • Maryland Antitrust Laws
  • Maryland Interest Rate Laws
  • Maryland Homestead Laws

How to Delete Lien Records in Maryland

A lien is a claim against the property of a debtor. It provides a creditor with the legal right to seize and sell the property or asset of the debtor who fails to meet the obligations of a loan or contract. The property of the debtor also cannot be sold by the debtor without the consent of the lienholder. A judgment lien in Maryland will remain attached to the debtor's property for 12 years.

Lien records cannot be deleted in Maryland. Liens will be automatically lifted and removed upon payment of the debt owed or of an amount agreed with the lienholder. A state tax lien can only be lifted and removed after resolving the past-due liability.Maryland allows the public to search lien records online. For liens against property, search using the Maryland land records portal. For liens that come from court judgments, use the Maryland Case Search portal. Visit your county or city's finance office to find property tax or other municipal liens.

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