How Long Until I Can Have my Record Expunged?
January 17, 2017
A criminal record can damage your reputation and sometimes even your job opportunities; you could be paying for a mistake for the rest of you life. Depending on what crime was committed, however, you may have the option to have your record expunged. What exactly does this mean and when can you begin looking into it as a possibility? Let’s take a closer look at expungement in Maryland and what options you may have.
What is Expungement?
Expungement is the process of “expunging” someone’s criminal record so that it is as if it never existed. Expungement is different than record sealing, which instead just prevents the courts from viewing the record. Sealed records cannot be seen by potential employers or anyone else, but they do still exist. Expunged records no longer exist and in the eyes of the law (or anyone else looking) the crime never happened and the charge never existed. While both are good and viable options, expungement is preferable if you qualify, because you truly start with a clean slate. Sealing, however, is usually easier to achieve than expungement.
How Do I Qualify?
Only certain types of records can qualify for expungement, such as nonviolent crimes. Whether your record can be expunged or just sealed will be determined by the court based on what type of crime was committed. Several factors have to be true of your case for you to qualify for expungement. These factors include the type of crime that was committed, how much time has passed since the crime was committed, no more criminal charges have been filed since the original offense, and little or no criminal activity prior to the offense. If you do not qualify for expungement due to one or more factors, speak with a lawyer to see if you still have the option to apply for record sealing.
When can I Apply?
There is always a waiting period before someone can file for expungement, but the amount of time before filing can vary based on several factors. The type of sentencing can have an impact on how much time must pass before someone can file a petition with the court for record sealing or expungement. The state in which the crime was committed also plays a factor, as different states have differing laws about sealing and expungement. In Maryland, however, in most cases a person must wait a minimum of three years before filing a petition. In some cases there are no waiting periods and you may file at any time. If you were charged with a crime that is now no longer a crime, you can file for expungement at any time.
If you have a record and you are considering filing a petition for expungement, you don’t have to navigate it alone. Call us at DRA e-Law today to discuss your specific case and your options or request an expungement consultation. Our legal team can help you file the proper paperwork and help you achieve the best outcome possible.