Many people think that their case is closed once their Maryland attorney successfully secures an acquittal (not guilty), a Nolle Pros (latin for “not prosecute”), a dismissal, a stet (placing the case on the inactive docket), or even sometimes a PBJ.  All of those results are generally great for our clients.  But generally there is some work to do for any competent Baltimore lawyer on the back end of the case to help you clear your name.  That is an expungement.

Do You Need an Expungement?

”]Expungement: The True Story behind the Fugitive (TV show and Movie)No, you don’t need to go the route of Harrison Ford in The Fugitive to clear your name.  But you need to understand that just because you got a not guilty, a nolle pros, a dismissal, or a stet; the case doesn’t disappear. An expungement is the process by which a person removes a criminal or traffic case from the courts and police computer systems. That way if a future employer searches your name in Maryland Case Search, the crime for which you worked so hard to clear from your past, doesn’t show up.

Here’s How Expungement Works

Not everyone is entitled to an expungement.  There are a series of rules and regulations regarding expungements of the different results of cases.  The Maryland Judiciary has a nice, handy, user friendly guide that can be found here.

I’ve summarized the rules below by result in your case. In almost EVERY situation you MUST file what is called a petition for expungement, agree NOT to sue the police who arrested you and then get a hearing before a judge.

WHEN you can get an expungement

  • Not guilty – immediate expungement
  • Dismissal – immediate expungement
  • Stet – after 3 years
  • Nolle Prosequi (Nolle Pros, or Not Prosecute) – immediate expungement
  • Guilty – Except for a few nuisance crimes, you are not eligible for expungement
  • PBJ – After probation is done, in certain circumstances
  • No contest or Alford pleas – same as guilty verdict

 When you cannot get an expungement

  • ANY guilty finding except for a very few nuisance crimes.
  • If you received a Nolle Pros, Stet, PBJ, or pardon and you’ve been convicted (had a guilty finding entered) of another crime OR have a pending charge.
  • Civil cases
  • Civil Domestic Violence cases
  • Minor traffic (check with the MVA to expunge minor traffic)

The Bottom Line on Expungement

If you have no other criminal or serious traffic record and you receive either a Nolle Pros, a dismissal, or a Not Guilty – immediately walk over to the clerk’s counter at the courthouse and pay the money ($35 in most cases) to get your charge expunged. That’s what we do with all of our clients.

It takes 5 extra minutes but can save you years of aggravation down the road. If you find yourself charged with a Baltimore crime or a crime anywhere in Maryland, or you have a more unusual expungement circumstance, be sure to contact your previous Maryland lawyer from your underlying crime (who may or may not help you do it for free) or contact your favorite EN lawyer.