- Posted by Justin K. Schwemmer
- On 2015-09-28
- 0 Comments
- criminal law, criminal law changes, expungement, expungement changes, expungement law, expungement law changes, family law, family law changes, marijuana, maryland expungement changes 2015, maryland family law changes 2015, new laws, new laws 2015, new maryland laws, new maryland laws 2015
Starting October 1, 2015, there will be some new changes taking effect for Maryland expungement and family law. In some cases, expungements and divorces will become easier to obtain.
When clients ask me about getting old records expunged, it is usually because they are having an issue getting clearance for a job. Maryland criminal records are publicly available, and many employers do not understand what a “nolle prosequi” or “stet” is, or that a probation before judgment is not a guilty finding. While we are legally innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the court, there is still a public stigma for simply being charged with a crime.
Expungement can be applied to many charges that resulted in probation before judgment, nolle prosequi, or a stet, among other things. Before the change, if you had a charge with one of these results, but then later received a conviction on your record, you could not expunge the earlier non-conviction. On October 1, the law will change so that a nolle prosequi or stet can be expunged even with a subsequent conviction on a person’s record. A probation before judgment with a later conviction will also likely be eligible for expungement under the new rule, if the later conviction happened more than three years after the entry of the PBJ; the law still excludes PBJs for certain charges, however, like DUIs.
In addition, the law will change so that folks who were convicted of a crime, and the act on which that conviction was based is no longer a crime, will be able to expunge their records of that conviction. This will include convictions for possession of marijuana where it can be shown that the amount of marijuana that the conviction was based on was under ten grams.
If, under current law, you are unable to expunge your old charges, you should check with your Maryland attorney to see if you will become eligible to expunge these records under the new law. There are some timing issues when filing for expungement. Notably, you will not be able to request an expungement if you currently have a criminal matter pending, not counting appeals, post-conviction motions, or a few other exceptions. There will also be some changes regarding the shielding of certain nonviolent misdemeanor convictions from public view; check with your attorney.
Changes in Maryland family law will take effect on October 1, as well. There will be new grounds for an absolute divorce: mutual consent. Mutual consent can be accepted as grounds if the parties have no minor children together, the parties write a settlement agreement addressing property and alimony, and both parties appear at the hearing. For limited divorces, there will no longer be requirements that a separation be voluntary, that there be no reasonable expectation of reconciliation, or that the parties participate in good-faith reconciliation efforts. In addition, when the grounds for divorce occurred outside of Maryland, the law will change from requiring residency by at least one party for at least a year to six months.
While divorce will become easier in some ways this October, there may still be complicated legal issues in individual cases. You should still seek the counsel of your Maryland attorney when dealing with a divorce.