People make mistakes and can turn their lives around. Unfortunately, a criminal record can taint a person for life, no matter how exemplary their behavior after completing any sentence or probation. A criminal record, especially for theft, can prevent otherwise qualified individuals from getting a job. Fortunately, there are some ways in which a person with a criminal conviction can prevent many potential employers from seeing their criminal record. A Maryland criminal defense attorney can give you more information and let you know whether your case may qualify under state laws.
Expungement is the removal of a person’s criminal record from court files. If you were convicted of misdemeanor theft or the theft of items worth between $100 and $1,000, you might qualify for expungement of your criminal record if at least 10 years have passed since the conviction, and you have not had any subsequent convictions – with the exception of minor traffic violations – and have completed any sentence and parole or probation ordered by the court. The clock starts ticking on those ten years after you have finished all court-ordered punishment.
For certain convictions, such as possession of marijuana, the expungement eligibility period begins earlier, just four years after any completion of punishment. For specific “nuisance” convictions, including not paying the fare on public transportation or drinking alcohol in a public place, a person may qualify for expungement just three years after the conviction and any punishment served.
Filing for Expungement
If you were found guilty or pleaded guilty in the conviction, you wish expunged, complete Form CC-DC-072B. You may also need to fill out Form CC-DCCR-078, a General Waiver, and Release. You must pay any fees involved, and file the forms either in person or by mail with the office of the clerk of the court in which your case was heard.
Shielding differs from expungement. While certain people, such as law enforcement personnel, may still see your criminal record, it is no longer available to the public or displayed online in Case Search. In effect, shielding “shields” your records from public viewing. You are only allowed to receive shielding once in a lifetime. Employers cannot require that you provide shielded information, and they cannot refuse to hire you – or fire you – because you did not give them such information.
Crimes eligible for shielding do not include theft convictions of any type. However, there are convictions available for shielding that can interfere with the ability to gain employment. Those convictions eligible for shielding include:
- Possessing or administering a controlled dangerous substance
- Disorderly conduct
- Trespassing on posted property
- Malicious destruction of property, lesser degree
- Various driving offenses, although not DUI.
You cannot apply for shielding until three years have passed since completion of all portions of your sentence. Because a shielding application is a one-time only endeavor, it is crucial that you hire a criminal defense attorney to advise you and help you with the paperwork.
Contact a Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one has been arrested for a criminal offense, you need the services of an experienced Maryland criminal attorney. Contact our office for a free initial consultation. While most cases are settled, we fight aggressively for our clients and will go to trial, if necessary.