New Maryland Law could help criminal defendants

New Maryland Law could help criminal defendants

A new law in Maryland will allow “shielding” of certain misdemeanor
convictions. Gov. Larry Hogan signed the new law, known as the Second
Chance Act of 2015, which gives some individuals the ability to seal certain
kinds of misdemeanor records.

The legislation is groundbreaking because it’s the first time that
people convicted of serious misdemeanor crimes will be able to limit public
access to their conviction records. In the past, only Maryland residents
convicted of nuisance offenses and pardoned offenses could benefit from
shielding.

On Oct.1, the new law will go into effect. However, some say that they
would like the law to be more powerful. That is because only a small number
of misdemeanor offenses will be eligible for sealing. Furthermore, certain
shielded records will still be available to licensing entities and employers.
That said, the new law can be seen as a step in the right direction in
terms of granting defendants more ability to seek privacy following conviction.

Eligibility only applies to 12 types of non-violent misdemeanor convictions.
Among the various offenses that may qualify are destruction of property
and prostitution, for example. In addition, possession of controlled dangerous
substances is also eligible for sealing. On the other hand, domestically
related crimes are not eligible for shielding.

Maryland residents who want to know if their criminal convictions are eligible
for shielding can speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney
about their convictions. If eligible, they may be able to file an appropriate
petition with the court to have their criminal records sealed from public view.

Source: Collateral Consequences Resource Center, “New Maryland law allows “shielding” of some misdemeanor convictions,” accessed Sep. 24, 2015