For some Maryland residents, a criminal accusation, even if untrue, can hurt for years. If someone was never convicted or served time, the mere fact of a charge can linger and affect the person's employment chances, educational possibilities and other opportunities in life. Nonetheless, what if there was a way for someone to be rid of a charge or a conviction?
For some people, there is. They can apply to have their criminal records expunged. This means the person's criminal records are removed from public view. Maryland allows certain records -- those related to the Motor Vehicle Administration, police and courts -- to be expunged. This means that a felony charge, whether a white collar crime or some other offense, can be expunged under certain circumstances: If the accused was found not guilty, the charges were dismissed or the charges led to probation before there was a judgment.
Other instances for which a Maryland resident can seek expungement include when the criminal case was never prosecuted, the case was indefinitely deferred by the court, the accused was pardoned by the governor or the state's attorney decided not to prosecute the charges. In many instances, a person who files for expungement will have to wait 3 years before filing to have records expunged. However, if a person demonstrates good cause, then a petition for expungement can be filed anytime. In general, the expungement process takes around 90 days, if it is not challenged by prosecutors.
Although Maryland residents can pursue an expungement petition on their own, it is better to seek guidance from a legal professional, particularly a criminal defense lawyer. A professional who is familiar with the criminal defense process can effectively navigate the way to getting an expungement granted and defend the claim if it is challenged in any way.
Source: MDcourts.gov, "Expungement," accessed on Dec. 11, 2014