A Maryland woman’s request to have charges for driving on a suspended license, possessing a suspended license and displaying a suspended license expunged was successful recently; but, it took a trip to Maryland’s appeals court for her request to be granted.
The plaintiff received four traffic citations – exceeding the maximum posted speed in violation of Maryland law, driving on a suspended license, possessing a suspended license and displaying a suspended license. She pleaded guilty to one count of exceeding the maximum posted speed limit. The state entered a nolle prosequi on the other counts. The court imposed a $45 fine.
She then filed a petition seeking expungement of the conviction for speeding and the three charges on which the State had entered a nolle prosequi. 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.
The State answered and said she was not eligible for expungement of the conviction for the minor traffic violation of speeding but was eligible for the expungement of the other charges. The state explained that the expungement remedy is only available when a person has been charged with the commission of a crime for which imprisonment may be imposed. Speeding is a non-incarcerable offense for which the maximum punishment is a $500 fine. Driving on a suspended license, possessing a suspended license and displaying a suspended license are all incarcerable offenses with up to one year of imprisonment for a first offense of driving on a suspended license; up to two months of imprisonment for possessing a suspended license and for displaying a suspended license. A minor traffic violation, such as speeding, is not a candidate for expungement, the court said.
The circuit court denied the petition, appearing to believe that it could expunge the records only if it could expunge all of the records concerning the same incident, transaction or set of facts.
However, the appeals court saw things differently, reversing the lower court’s decision. Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals said that, under Maryland law, certain police records, court records or other records maintained by the state can be expunged if a nolle prosequi has been entered, provided that three years have passed, which she did, the court said.
Additionally, in most instances, a petition for expungement cannot be granted unless the petitioner is entitled to expungement of each charge in the unit. The appeals court noted that if two or more charges arise from the same incident, they are considered a unit, and the petitioner is not entitled to expungement of any single charge in that unit unless he or she is entitled to expungement of all of them. However, a charge for a minor traffic violation does not count as part of the unit, even if it stems from the same incident. As a result, a minor traffic violation does not prevent a court from expunging other charges that arose from the same incident.
In this instance, the court noted, there was no dispute that the plaintiff was entitled to expungement of the charges for driving on a suspended license, possessing a suspended license and displaying a suspended license and the conviction for a minor traffic violation did not affect the right to expungement for the three incarcerable traffic violations that did not result in a conviction even though they arose from the same incident.
A Baltimore expungement attorney can help you to get your Baltimore criminal records expunged. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas J. Maronick can help. You can contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 410-881-4022, the law office at 410-244-5068 or via our website for a free consultation.