Can You Get An Expungement?

August 23, 2012

Expungement is the removal of records from public view. In Maryland, there are three types of records that may be expunged: (1) Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) points and violations, (2) police files, and (3) court documents. There’s a different process for each agency, so in order to have your records expunged entirely, you have to follow each process.

The MVA automatically expunges many records after three years, if:

  • the driver has not been convicted of a another traffic violation or criminal offense;
  • the driver’s license has never been suspended or revoked;
  • the driver has never been found guilty of or been granted probation before judgment (PBJ) for:
  • fleeing the scene of an accident that resulted in bodily injury or death; or
  • driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while impaired (DWI).

Since October 2007, police records of citizens who weren’t formally charged are automatically expunged after 60 days.

However, court records are never automatically expunged. There are required forms that have to be filed with the court to have records expunged.

What qualifies for expungement?

In Maryland, your records can be expunged if:

  • you were found not guilty;
  • you were found guilty of particular nuisance crimes;
  • the charge was dismissed;
  • the charge was not for a DUI or DWI and resulted in a PBJ;
  • the charge was not prosecuted by the State’s Attorney (nolle prosequi);
  • the case was indefinitely postponed by the Court (stet);
  • the case reached a settlement; or
  • you were convicted of only one non-violent criminal act and granted a full and unconditional pardon by the Governor.

Expungements are subject to waiting periods based upon how the case was concluded and whether a general waiver and release form has been filed.

If the petition includes an acquittal, a nolle prosequi, or a dismissal, there are two choices for expungement. The first option is waiting three years from the date of your disposition (final date you went to court). The second, and quicker option, is within three years of your disposition if you attach a general waiver and release. A general waiver and release discharges all lawsuits and legal claims stemming from the charge.

In certain circumstances, you can have your PBJ expunged. A commonly heard, but incorrect, statement is “I can get my PBJ expunged once I finish probation.” This isn’t true. If you can have your PBJ expunged, you must wait three years from the date you successfully finished your probation.

In the case of juvenile convictions, records are sealed and should not appear in any criminal or public records.

Unless there is an objection or appeal by the state, expungements take approximately 90 days from the time the petition was filed. The State’s Attorney and other law enforcement agencies have 30 days to file an objection. If no objections are filed, the court will pass an expungement order that will require all police and court records to be removed within 60 days of receiving the order.

If you think you’re eligible for an expungement or want to know if you’re eligible, contact an attorney with Cochran and Chhabra at 888-268-5515.

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