Governor Wes Moore of Maryland recently signed Senate Bill 37 into law, officially introducing the REDEEM Act of 2023. This bill halved the waiting period for expungements concerning non-violent convictions. As a result, individuals with felony or misdemeanor convictions could apply for expungement sooner.
The state projects this reform will open opportunities for thousands of residents pursuing expungement. Under the REDEEM Act of 2023, the waiting period for filing a petition to expunge records related to a conviction § 10-110 of the Criminal Procedure Article has shortened. This Act cut the waiting period in half, marking a significant shift in the state’s long-held policy.
Before this bill, those seeking expungement for a misdemeanor conviction had to wait ten years from the completion of their sentence. Completion of the sentence included finishing probation, parole, and mandatory supervision. Similarly, other grades of offenses require a waiting period of 15 years for a violation of common law battery (§ 3-203 of the Criminal Law Article). Felonies also had to wait 15 years generally.
The REDEEM Act of 2023 will allow anyone convicted of a qualifying misdemeanor offense to expunge their record five years after completing their sentence terms. Similarly, those convicted of nonviolent felonies could qualify to request an expungement in only seven years.
The Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services shared data that indicated 2019 saw 73,000 expungement orders. The REDEEM Act of 2023 will significantly increase these numbers, potentially opening doors for thousands of individuals wanting to expunge their criminal records. Additionally, the ability to seal these records would substantially improve their employment, education, and housing opportunities.
This new law expands upon several recent laws Maryland enacted to reduce the impact of criminal histories. For example, it expands on the current “ban-the-box” law. In this case, it prohibits colleges from asking potential students about criminal history. It also reduces the waiting period for expunging marijuana arrest records to three years.
Now enacted, this law encourages eligible applicants to petition the courts for an expungement. However, they must petition the court that initially addressed the case. Interested individuals can expect the process to take up to 90 days after filing a petition. However, a prosecutor will have 30 days to object.
With these changes in mind, employers should examine their hiring policies. They should also consider partnering with a background check provider to ensure they offer a fair chance to individuals with criminal backgrounds. The right partner will provide accurate screening and ensure expunged records do not appear on background reports.
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