Lawsuits Over Background Checks Show Need for Expungement of Criminal Records

Lawsuits Over Background Checks Show Need for Expungement of Criminal Records

Recent lawsuits by workers fired after employer background checks, that in some instances revealed charges that were many years old or inaccurate, show how important it is to get criminal records in Maryland expunged. In one instance, a group of Amazon drivers have sued the e-commerce giant because they were fired when a strict background check discovered criminal charges that, some say, are minor and 10 years old.

The criminal justice reform bill signed by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan in 2016 expanded the number of crimes that can be expunged. Described as “the broadest criminal justice legislation in decades,” the law reduced sentencing guidelines for drug dealers, thieves and other offenders while substantially increasing the number of crimes that can be wiped from an offender's record, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Expungement is the process of asking the court to remove certain court and police records from public view. It mostly applies to records that did not result in a conviction, but several types of convictions can be expunged. A Baltimore expungement lawyer can provide more details.

One Maryland lawmaker told the Baltimore Sun that the law was the largest expansion of the type of records that can be expunged ever seen in Maryland. The law expanded the list of offenses that could be erased from public records from nine to about 50, including misdemeanors related to theft and drug possession.

The change was made to make it easier for former offenders to qualify for jobs, housing and education. Many organizations and businesses require background checks for applicants. A record of criminal charges can hamper employment as seen by the lawsuits against Amazon, Target and others, as well as applications to schools and colleges and more.

In addition, with the recent decriminalizing of marijuana in Maryland, some drug charges are no longer crimes. If you were found guilty of a crime that is no longer a crime, you can get your Baltimore criminal record expunged. Past convictions for possession of marijuana can be expunged, but the amount involved must be less than 10 grams. If the conviction was for more than 10 grams of marijuana, you may request an expungement four years after satisfactory completion of the sentence.

But, please note that if a private database has information about your public record, expungement will not remove it from that database.

Generally, you must wait three years after your case was decided before you can file for expungement, but the rules vary based on the results of your case. If you were acquitted, received a nolle prosequi, or a dismissal of the charges, you may file earlier if you also file a general release and waiver of any and all people against whom you may have a legal claim as a result of your arrest. If you received a probation before judgment, you may not file for expungement until your probationary period has been completed or three years have passed, whichever is longer. If your case was placed on the stet docket, you may file for expungement three years after the judgment. To file for an expungement based on a finding of “not criminally responsible,” you must wait until three years have passed since the finding. If you were found guilty of one of the crimes that can be expunged, you must wait three years.

A Baltimore expungement attorney can help you to get your criminal record expunged. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas J. Maronick can help. You can contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 202.288.0167, the law office at 410.244.5068 or via our website for a free consultation.