When most people think about the penalties they might face for committing a crime, they tend to focus their attention on the potential of high fines and long jail sentences. However, there are also a whole different set of issues that will follow you once you have completed your probation or parole and paid of all your fines and fees. These collateral consequences include a criminal record that can follow you for many years or even the rest of your life, making it more difficult to acquire gainful employment, get financial aid, and become professionally licensed. Below, our experienced Maryland expungement attorneys at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice explain when and how criminal records can show up on background checks in Maryland, and how we can help you expunge your record so that you can move forward with your future without past mistakes hanging over your head.
Anytime you are arrested and fingerprinted, your prints are sent to the state’s central depository as well as to the FBI. If you are charged with a crime and appear in court, there will be a public record of each appearance as well that indicates how the case was resolved, i.e. through a guilty plea, dismissal, etc. As such, in addition to FBI and state record depositories, some private background check companies have compiled this information in such a way that they can use your identifying information to track down a relatively accurate record of your criminal history.
There are rules about who can access your background check information. For example, in the context of employment, employers must obtain your consent before seeking to undertake a background check of you and examine any potential criminal records. If they are a company that employs 15 or more people, they also cannot ask about prior convictions or arrest until the first in-person job interview. Most employers will have the background check done by one of the private companies that provide these services. Some, like law enforcement agencies and professional licensure processes for folks such as attorneys, will require you to be fingerprinted so they can run your prints against the statewide or the FBI depository and acquire a more comprehensive, official criminal record.
There are state and federal laws and regulations that limit how and when employers are permitted to consider criminal arrest and convictions that show up on a background check when making hiring decisions. However, it is obviously never a positive for a background check to turn up a criminal record, even a minor one or one that consists of only arrests and not convictions. As noted above, if you are fingerprinted and your prints are checked against the state or federal systems, it is very likely that any and all information related to your arrests and convictions will show up. For some of the private background check companies, their information can be a bit less reliable, particularly when it comes to arrests that did not ultimately lead to a conviction. Nonetheless, your arrests and convictions will usually show up.
Generally speaking, if you get your criminal record expunged in Maryland, it cannot be seen by the public, employers or background check agencies. However, the record may still be seen by government agencies, police, military, and other agencies that require a security clearance for a particular job. While the FBI is not technically bound by state law on expungements, if they are notified that an expungement has occurred, will almost always remove the criminal record from your Identity History Summary as a courtesy. The information may still sometimes appear on private background checks if they are outdated.
While it is possible to file for an expungement without the assistance of an attorney, this is never advisable, as the process is complicated and timely. Instead, you should contact a skilled Maryland expungement attorney like those at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, who can help you acquire a copy of your criminal record, assess whether each of your offenses is eligible for an expungement, and complete and file the paperwork with the courts to get the expungement approved.
If you were arrested but never charged with a crime, your arrest should be automatically expunged within 60 days of your release from custody. One you have been charged, a court record will exist, and you will need to petition for an expungement even if the charges are ultimately dropped or you have been found not guilty. If your petition is based on an acquittal, a nolle prosequi, a stet, or a dismissal, you typically may file a petition 3 years after the disposition of the case, unless you file a General Waiver and Release of all legal claims and lawsuits arising from the charge, in which case you can usually file sooner. If your petition is based on a probation before judgment, you may file 3 years after probation was granted or discharged, whichever is later.
A conviction for any misdemeanor listed under Criminal Procedure Article § 10-110 can be expunged 10 years you after you satisfy the sentence, including parole, probation, or mandatory supervision. A conviction for any felony under Criminal Procedure Article § 10-110 can be expunged 15 years after the sentence has been satisfied. As noted above, however, it is always best to contact an experienced Maryland expungement attorney like those at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, who can advise you the exact timeline for an expungement based on the specifics circumstances of your arrest, disposition, or conviction.
If you have not had past criminal convictions or arrests expunged, they are very likely to show up on a background check run by your employer or someone else. As such, anyone who believes they may have a criminal record in the state of Maryland should reach out to an experienced Maryland expungement lawyer like those at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice as soon as possible. We will assess your situation, find out if and when you are eligible for an expungement, and work with you to get the petition filed in the proper court.. For a free consultation, call us today at (410) 694-7291.