Under the Maryland Second Chance Act, a person convicted of one of a limited number of offenses may ask a court to shield or otherwise limit public inspection of his or her criminal record with regard to that particular conviction. Unlike expungement, which destroys all records of an eligible criminal case, shielding allows a person with a conviction on his or record (who would not generally be eligible for an expungement) to hide that conviction from the general public.
What Criminal Offenses Qualify?
Only a limited number of criminal offenses qualify to be shielded:
- Disorderly Conduct
- Disturbing the Peace
- Failure to Obey a Law Enforcement Officer
- Malicious Destruction of Property Valued Less than $1,000
- Trespassing – Posted Property
- Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance (CDS)
- Possession of a Non-Controlled Substance
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
- Driving Without a License
- Driving While Uninsured
What are Some Limitations on Shielding?
The main limitation is that a person may only be granted a request to shield a criminal offense one time – for the duration of that person’s life. In other words, shielding a conviction is a one-time thing. Additionally, to be eligible to shield a conviction, a person may not be a Defendant in any pending criminal or serious traffic cases. And under what is referred to as the “unit rule,” if any one offense in a case is not eligible for shielding, then the case itself cannot be shielding. For example, a person convicted of only disorderly conduct would be eligible to have that conviction shielded. However, a person convicted of both disorderly conduct and reckless endangerment in the same case would not be eligible to have the disorderly conduct conviction shielded. Lastly, at least three years must have passed since the person requesting shielding was convicted and has completed his or sentence, including probation, and must not have incurred any new convictions during that time frame.
Baltimore County, MD Shielding Attorney
While a person does not necessarily need an attorney to request that a conviction be shielded (the form can be found here), an experienced criminal defense attorney can be of great assistance. An attorney can thoroughly review your criminal record to determine which convictions are eligible for shielding, ensure that the paperwork is completed properly so that there are no delays, and represent you at a court hearing in the event that the State files an objection. Contact our office today for a free consultation with an experienced Baltimore County, MD criminal defense attorney to discuss whether you qualify to have a conviction shielded from the public domain.
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