The Maryland Governor has enacted SB 37, also known as the REDEEM Act of 2023. This law reduces the waiting period for non-violent convictions’ expungements. Consequently, numerous Maryland residents with criminal records can now seek expungements for their misdemeanor and felony convictions earlier than before.
What is It?
The REDEEM Act of 2023 would shorten the time individuals wait to file expungement petitions in half. According to a statement about the bill, this would positively impact those facing adverse consequences from having a criminal record.
Before this bill, individuals had to wait ten years after completing their sentence to expunge a misdemeanor conviction. This requirement included completing any parole, probation, and mandatory supervision. In addition, individuals must wait 15 years to expunge other grades of offenses. These convictions included violation of § 3-203 of the Criminal Law Article (common law battery) and felonies in general.
What Does the Law Do?
Under the new law, someone convicted of a misdemeanor offense can have their record expunged in five years. However, they must still complete all of the terms of their sentence before qualifying for expungement. Furthermore, people convicted of non-violent felonies can request to have the convictions expunged in seven years.
The bill also revealed that the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services, in 2019, issued 73,000 orders for expungements. Furthermore, it would allow tens of thousands of additional people to apply to have their convictions expunged. These expungements could significantly increase the employment, education, and housing opportunities for people with criminal records.
This new law expands on several recent laws passed by Maryland to reduce the impact of criminal histories. For example, it would amend a “ban-the-box” law prohibiting colleges from asking potential students about criminal history and a law that reduced the waiting period required before expunging marijuana arrest records to three years. Once the law takes effect, eligible individuals can petition the court that initially heard the case for expungement. The process will typically take 90 days to complete after filing the petition. Once filed, the prosecutor will have 30 days in which to object.
Taking effect October 1, 2023, employers should prepare by reviewing their hiring policies but will not be required to make any changes as the expungements happen at the court levels. The best way to ensure compliance is by working with a trustworthy background check company. The right provider will use their experience with second-chance hiring to guarantee compliance and deliver accurate reports.