A brush with the Maryland criminal justice system can have long-term consequences. These may affect a defendant's job, housing, education and family.
A criminal record can constitute grounds for the denial or suspension of a professional or occupational license. Criminal arrests, charges and dispositions are accessible to the public on the state Judiciary Case Search website and some employers are legally required to check these criminal records.
Additionally, persons convicted of certain crimes such as sexual offenses and violent crimes are not allowed to work in schools. Crimes of moral turpitude may disqualify a person from employment in health-related occupations. Conviction of certain crimes may also lead to the loss or suspension of a commercial driver's license.
Public housing may be denied to anyone with a drug conviction. A felony offense can lead to denial for up to three years while a person may be denied housing up to 18 months for a misdemeanor conviction.
A drug-related offense may cause the loss of a student grant or loan. Conviction will cause the loss of funding and ineligibility for student grants, loan or work assistance for up to one year.
A criminal conviction may impact divorce. A felony or misdemeanor conviction with a sentence up to three years allows the court to grant the defendant's spouse an absolute divorce if the defendant served at least 12 months in prison.
However, child support is still owed even if a parent becomes incarcerated unless a modification is filed with the court. If a child was in an out-of-home placement for 15 of the most recent 22 months, the state can assume guardianship and terminate parental rights.
Criminal offenses have other consequences. A person's DNA sample will be placed in a database if a person is charged with violent crime or burglary. Certain convictions may prevent firearm possession.
Convicted sexual offenders will have their name placed in the state's Sex Offender registry. Felony convictions terminate voting rights until the sentence is fully served.
An attorney can be contacted as soon as possible following arrest. Legal assistance may prevent a conviction or limit some of these consequences.
Source: Office of the Public Defender, "Collateral consequences of your contact with the criminal courts," accessed on April 24, 2017