New Justice Reinvestment Act – Allows for Misdemeanor Expungements That Were Not Available Before October 1, 2017

The Justice Reinvestment Act provides an opportunity for expungement of your record if you were convicted of one of the misdemeanors designated in the new law (Md. Code Ann. Crim. Pro. §10-110) and ten years have passed since completion of your sentence.  The list of applicable misdemeanors includes (but is not limited to) the following: disorderly intoxication; failure to comply with a peace order; second-degree assault; possession of CDS/paraphernalia; misdemeanor theft/possession of stolen property; public assistance fraud; false statements to public authorities concerning a crime; disturbing the peace/disorderly conduct; various offenses related to voting; and some handgun possession charges.  All listed misdemeanors other than second-degree assault and domestic offenses, under Md. Code Ann. Crim. Pro. §6-233, entitle you to file an expungement petition after ten years.  Second-degree assault and crimes falling under the domestic offense provision require you to wait fifteen years before filing your petition. 

Unless the State’s Attorney or the victim files an objection to the expungement petition within 30 days, the court is required to order the expungement of all public police records and court records pertaining to your charge.  If the state’s attorney or a victim files an objection to the expungement petition, the court will hold a hearing to determine whether to grant your petition.  The primary consideration at the hearing (aside from whether you/your crime qualify for expungement) will be whether you would be considered a risk to public safety, considering the nature of the crime, your history/character, and your success at rehabilitation.  If your expungement petition is denied, you are entitled to appeal that decision.

The primary issues that could make you ineligible for an expungement are: 1.) if you have been convicted of a new crime after completing your sentence for the original crime; or 2.) if you are currently a defendant in a pending criminal proceeding. 

If you think you may qualify for a misdemeanor expungement based on this summary of the Justice Reinvestment Act, you should call a criminal attorney familiar with this new law to help you draft your expungement petition in a way that would be most persuasive with the court.

Rachel Wilson, Nathans & Biddle LLP

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