Having a criminal record often creates insurmountable hardships for individuals seeking employment. Beginning October 1st, the Second Chance Act and changes to expungement laws will help give nonviolent criminal offenders another opportunity at a normal life.

When applying for jobs, individuals are required to indicate whether or not they have been convicted of a crime. More often than not, answering yes to this question is a deterrent for employers—making it difficult for criminal offenders to gain employment. But on October 1st, 2015, changes to current expungement laws and the activation of the Maryland Second Chance Act will provide a legal foundation that may allow nonviolent offenders greater access to employment opportunities.

What is the Second Chance Act of 2015?

The Second Chance Act 2015 was introduced earlier this year and signed by Governor Hogan.  The Bill, which becomes law on October 1, 2015, allows nonviolent criminal offenders the opportunity to reenter society. The legislation amended the Criminal Procedure article, §10-301 through §10-306 to allow certain nonviolent misdemeanor convictions to be shielded from the public record after a 3 to 7 year waiting period. The 12 types of criminal convictions that qualify for shielding are (in their non-legal terms):

  1. Disorderly Conduct
  2. Disturbing the Peace
  3. Failure to Obey a Reasonble and Lawful order
  4. Malicious Destruction under (the lesser charge)
  5. Trespassing of posted property
  6. Possessing Controlled Substances
  7. Administering a non-controlled substance
  8. Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
  9. Driving without a License
  10. Driving with a Suspended License
  11. Driving uninsured
  12. Prostitution (but not assignation)

The Act, backed by the Job Opportunities Task Force, provides nonviolent offenders greater opportunities to gain employment and build a better life after convictions—an achievement that studies show decreases the likelihood of repeat offenses by 50 percent. However, should an offender commit another offense during the 3 to 7 year waiting period, they would not be eligible to have either offense shielded until the latter offense become eligible.  The information that is shielded from the public will continue to be accessible by law enforcement, and through criminal background checks required by certain employers.

Changes to the Expungement law

In addition to the Second Chance Act, amendments were made to the expungement law under Crim. Pro. §10-101, et al.  An offender may be entitled to expunge (completely wipe clean) the arrest and conviction for Marijuana, or any other case that was previously dismissed or nolle prosequi’d even if you have been subsequently convicted of a crime.  This is a substantial deviation from current law and could alter the job prospects for many persons.

ENLawyers Bottom Line

The Maryland Second Chance Act allows nonviolent offenders a chance at a new start and an opportunity to contribute back to society. If you have been convicted of a nonviolent misdemeanor, and are seeking to shield this in order to pursue better opportunities, contact the lawyers at the Law Offices of Eldridge and Nachtman. There are nuanced provisions to the law and it would be helpful to contact an attorney before filing a petition.  For more information on this legislation, help filing a petition, or for a consultation regarding your specific case, contact the Law Offices of Eldridge and Nachtman today.