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Expungement and changing your criminal record

There is a variety of reasons why a person's criminal record might become a factor that affects his or her life. Criminal background checks to purchase firearms, get certain jobs and rent certain properties can become problematic if you have any criminal charges or criminal convictions. There are some options in which you might be able to have your criminal record expunged or shielded.

What is an expungement?

Having a criminal mark on your record completely removed occurs if you have it expunged. There are only certain criminal marks that you can have expunged in Maryland. In this case, you must petition the court to remove the records from public view. There are only certain types of charges and convictions that are eligible to be expunged, so you should explore the option to determine if you are eligible to have your record expunged.

What is shielding?

Shielding, which is covered in the Maryland Second Chance Act, means that criminal marks might not be accessed by certain people. This doesn't provide the complete removal that expungement offers. There are some records that will qualify for shielding that won't qualify for expungement.

When can I try to get a record expunged?

The process for getting a record expunged can begin three years after the disposition of a criminal case. The entire process takes around three months.

It is vital that you obtain assistance when trying to have a criminal record expunged or shielded. You must ensure the petition is completed correctly, and you must be prepared to deal with objections to the expungement. Understanding the full process might help you to decide how to proceed.

Source: The People's Law Library of Maryland, "Changing Your Criminal Record," accessed Oct. 01, 2015

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