THE BASICS

 

What does “expunge” mean? 

To “expunge” [EX-SPONGE] a charge means to erase it from public records. On this website, this is what we mean when we say “clean your record” or “erase charges.” If you have a criminal record, anyone can look it up online or at Maryland courthouses. If you erase your charges, people won’t be able to see them anymore. This means that landlords and employers won’t see them when they look up your record.

You can only get certain charges erased. This might mean some of your charges can be removed, while others can’t be. Getting charges removed can make it easier for you to get a job and rent a place to live. The best way to find out if any of the charges on your record can be removed is to talk to a lawyer who knows about expungements. One way to find these lawyers is to go to a clinic where lawyers have volunteered to help you understand what can and cannot be removed from your record.

What are the benefits of cleaning your record?

Erasing charges on your record can help you in a lot of ways. Here are some of the ways that removing your record has helped people:

  • Easier to get a job. If all your charges have been removed, you can say on your job applications that you don’t have a criminal record. This can help you get hired, because your future employer will not be able to see that you have had a criminal record.
  • Easier to get housing. If all your charges have been removed, you can say on your applications to rent housing that you don’t have a criminal record. If a landlord checks your background, they will not be able to see that you have had a criminal record. This can make it easier for you to rent a place to live. It can also make it easier to buy a place to live.
  • Easier to go to college. If all your charges have been removed, it is easier to get accepted to college and easier to get loans to pay for classes.

How do I do it?

To start process, you can go to a clinic, where you can talk to a lawyer for free. The lawyer can help you figure out if you can get any charges erased, and start the paperwork to do it. After you file the paperwork, you will wait to get a letter saying the court’s decision. If the court decides to order your records erased, you get another letter confirming this has happened. The details of this process depends on which organization is hosting the clinic you go to, but most follow the same general process. To find out more about the general process, click here.

What is an expungement clinic?

An Expungement Clinics is an event where you can meet with a lawyer to see if any charges on your record can be removed. See upcoming clinics here. It is free to come, and you may need an appointment. If some charges are eligible to be removed, the lawyer can help you fill out paperwork to ask the court to do so.  It usually takes about 3 to 6 months after filing of this paperwork for the charges to be erased from public view.

 How long does it take?

It can take as little as 3 months, but it usually takes about 6 months. This time includes about 30 days for the courts to decide if they approve, and it takes another 60 days for your records to be erased. Sometimes, it takes them longer to erase your records, and the wait time could take a few months instead of 60 days.

How much is it?

In some cases, there is no fee. In other cases, there is a $30 fee. If you cannot afford this, you can apply for the fee to be waved.

How do I know if this will work for me?

Since the law can get complicated, the only sure way to find out if your charges can be removed is to talk to a lawyer. You can meet with a lawyer who knows about expungement at a clinicor hire your own lawyer. Below is some general information about whether your charge can be removed, and we have more information on how to find out if your charges can be erased here.

Some charges cannot be removed in Maryland:*

  • Charges from other states, besides Maryland
  • Federal crimes
  • Felony charges
  • DUI charges where you were found guilty or there was probation before judgment. 

To be eligible, you also can’t have any open criminal cases.

I want to know more. What should I do?

Explore our webpage. We explain the process and have an FAQ. You can also look at our resources page. If you do this and still have questions, ask a lawyer, such as those who volunteer at expungement clinics. 

*This is not legal advice. For legal advice, consult a lawyer, such as those at expungement clinics.