Changing Your Criminal Record

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Categories :: Criminal > Expungement

How can I remove my DNA sample from the Statewide Database?

Legislation passed in 2008 regarding DNA samples taken from defendants in Maryland.  The requirements are outlined below. Read the Law: MD Crim. Pro §§ 6-232, 8-201; Public Safety §§ 2-513, 2-514

  • This legislation requires the court to advise a defendant in a criminal case, when all charges against the defendant are disposed of by acquittal, probation before judgment, nolle prosequi, or stet, that the defendant may be entitled to expunge the records of any DNA sample and DNA record relating to the charges(s).
  • It also requires a DNA sample to be taken from any individual charged for certain crimes of violence or felony burglary.
  • The legislation sets forth requirements for collection, testing, use, and disposal of DNA samples taken from and individual and sets forth additional expungement criteria.
  • This legislation clarifies that DNA must be destroyed if the person is never charged or convicted after being arrested.
  • The legislation establishes procedures for the use of DNA evidence in certain court proceedings and requires that certain reports be submitted annually to the governor and the General Assembly.
  • This legislation took effect January 1, 2009 and requirements to collect DNA samples from charged individuals end December 31, 2013.

How can I change my criminal record?

There is a special process called “expungement” that you can use to change your criminal record.  Expungement is a court process that can allow you to remove certain items from your criminal record, depending on the situation.

What should I know about my criminal record?

  • Generally, any arrest or citation will show up on your criminal record regardless of what happened later in court.  Your record will show the arrest or citation even if:
    • Your case was dismissed; or
    • You were acquitted (found not guilty); or
    • Probation Before Judgment was entered; or
    • A Nolle Prosequi was entered in your case (This occurs when the prosecutor decides to drop the case either before or during trial.  Lawyers commonly refer to this as a “noll pros”); or
    • The case was placed on the “stet docket,” an inactive group of cases which generally are not reopened.
  • If you were found guilty or paid a fine after being arrested, that will appear on your records as a conviction.
  • You can get a copy of your criminal record from the Criminal Justice Information System.

How can I get my charge “expunged?”

Under Maryland law, you must file a petition and ask the court to expunge your records.  You can ask for expungement if:

  • You were acquitted (found not guilty); or
  • Your charge was dismissed.

You get an automatic expungement of records relating to arrests that do not result in the filing of a charge. 

Additionally, you can ask for expungement if you were not subsequently convicted of any crime which carried a possible prison sentence if:

  • You received Probation Before Judgment; or
  • A Nolle Prosequi was entered in your case (This occurs when the prosecutor decides to drop the case either before or during trial.  Lawyers commonly refer to this as a “noll pros”); or
  • Your case was placed on the “stet docket,” an inactive group of cases which generally are not reopened; or
  • Your case was transferred to juvenile court.


A “pardon” is an act of the Governor in which s/he frees someone of guilt for a criminal act and relieves the grantee from any penalties of law for those acts. (Md. Correctional Services Code Ann. §7-101(h)) You may not request a pardon if you are currently in jail.  The Governor uses the Maryland Parole Commission’s guidelines in determining whether or not to grant a pardon. The following summarizes the guidelines.

If you were convicted of a misdemeanor, you must have been crime-free for at least five (5) years from the time of your sentencing or release from jail, parole, or probation, whichever occurred last.

If you were convicted of a felony:

  • that was NOT a crime of violence and did NOT involve controlled dangerous substances, the time period increases to ten (10) years. However, the Parole Commission may consider cases after only seven (7) years.
  • that was a crime of violence or involved controlled dangerous substances, you must have remained crime-free for at least twenty (20) years, from the time of your sentencing or release from jail, parole, or probation (whichever occurred last). However, the Parole Commission may consider cases after only fifteen (15) years.

The following factors are considered regarding your request for a pardon:

  • The type of crime and the circumstances surrounding its commission;
  • The effect a pardon would have on the victim(s) (if any) and the community;
  • The type of sentence handed down;
  • What other anti-social behavior you have engaged in;
  • Your rehabilitation;
  • Your age and health; and
  • The reason for requesting a pardon.

Transfer to Juvenile Court

You can also file for expungement if your case was transferred to juvenile court.

Convictions and Findings of Not Criminally Responsible

You can also file for expungement of a conviction (or, effective October 1, 2013, a finding of Not Criminally Responsible) for certain nuisance crimes like:

  • urination or defecation in a public place,
  • panhandling or soliciting money,
  • drinking an alcoholic beverage in a public place,
  • obstructing the free passage of another in a public place or a public conveyance,
  • sleeping on or in park structures, such as benches or doorways,
  • loitering, 
  • vagrancy,
  • riding a transit vehicle without paying the applicable fare or exhibiting proof of payment, or
  • certain acts specified in § 7–705 of the Transportation Article.

Effective October 1, 2013, you can also file for expungement of a finding of Not Criminally Responsible for misdemeanor:

  • Trespass,
  • Disturbing the peace, or
  • Telephone misuse.

If your case had multiple charges and you were found guilty of one of those charges, you may NOT have the other charges expunged unless those charges are also expungeable. A person is NOT entitled to an expungement if, since the time of conviction of the nuisance crime was sought, the person has been convicted of another crime other than a minor trafic violation or is the defendant in a pending criminal proceeding.  Read the Law: MD Crim. Proc. § 10-105 

Generally you must wait three (3) 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 or received a nolle prosequi or 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 is over or until three (3) years have passed, whichever is longer
  • If your case was placed on the stet docket, you may not file earlier than three (3) after the judgment.
  • If you were pardoned by the governor, you must wait at least five (5) years but not more than ten (10) years after your pardon.
  • Effective October 1, 2013, to file for an expungement based on a finding of Not Criminally Responsible, you must wait until three (3) years have passed since the finding.

In all above cases, however, a court may grant a petition for expungement at any time if the court feels you have shown good cause. Expungement of record after charge is filed. If you file for expungement before the time period has elapsed, the State's Attorney may file an objection.  You will then have the opportunity to show why you have good cause at a hearing.
Read the Law: MD Criminal Proc. § 10-105

When you file for an expungement, you must pay a $30 filing fee for each case with charges that you want expunged unless you were acquitted of the charges.  All expungement requests must be filed with the court in which your criminal proceeding was held. Expungement of record after charge is filed. Note:  You may only file for expungement of Maryland charges in a Maryland court.  Traffic violations cannot be expunged.


In district court, you need to fill out a Petition for Expungement. To help you complete the form and answer other questions you may have concerning you expungement, the District Court of Maryland has available a printable brochure on Expungement online.

It is important to use broad language when you request an expungement. You should indicate that you wish to expunge all police records, court records, and "other records maintained by the State of Maryland and its subdivisions" relating to your charge.

In circuit court, broad language is the best way to ensure that all records of your arrest, detention, etc. are expunged. If you fail to include such broad language, the court will only order the expungement of the records you mention specifically. Davis v. Magee, 2001 Md. App. LEXIS 129

After you have filed for expungement, the State’s Attorney has 30 days to file an objection to your petition.  If the State’s Attorney does not do so, the court will order the expungement of police and court records relating to your charge.  If the State’s Attorney does object, the court will conduct a hearing on your petition at which the court will decide whether or not you are entitled to an expungement.

How can I get a copy of my criminal record?

Your criminal record is available from the Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS).  The cost for retrieving your records is $38 and must be paid with a money order or personal or certified check.  Cash is not accepted.  To get a copy of your records, you must appear between 8 am and 3:30 pm at:

CJIS – Central Repository
Reisterstown Plaza, Room 200
6776 Reisterstown Road
Baltimore, Maryland
(410) 764-5160

A second location you may go to for obtaining your criminal records is a state police office nearest to you.
Employment discrimination and your criminal record:

Some employers (like those dealing with child care or adult dependant care) are required to ask about your criminal history.  If an employer does look at your criminal history, they should keep in mind the following three factors:

  1. the nature and seriousness of the crime(s)
  2. the amount of time which has passed since the crime or completion of the sentence
  3. the nature of the job for which you applied.

There is no law in Maryland that requires employers to look at these factors.


“Your Criminal Record – Expungement, Discrimination & Other Issues Relating to Employment,” Homeless Persons Representation Project. Updates by Errin Roby, Baltimore County Circuit Court Law Library edited by Rene LaVigne

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Is this legal advice?

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