REDEEM Act of 2023 Takes Effect in Maryland
October 23, 2023
As of October 1, 2023, waiting periods for expunging certain convictions have shortened considerably. Most notable is the wait for marijuana-related records. In many cases, waiting periods have been cut by more than half, allowing individuals to have their records expunged in a far shorter time.
REDEEM ACT Effects
The REDEEM Act of 2023 (SB 37) will reduce the waiting period for several eligible expungements. The Act bases eligibility according to the Maryland Criminal Procedure Code, specifically § 10-110. This new law could cut waiting times in half for eligible misdemeanors, reducing the wait from ten years to five. However, interested parties must satisfy the sentence(s) imposed for all convictions they wish to expunge.
The REDEEM Act of 2023 also reduces the waiting period for qualifying felony convictions from 15 years to seven. Once again, this applies after satisfying all associated sentences, including parole, probation, or mandatory supervision. Most notably, this law applies to marijuana-related convictions. For example, those convicted of possession with intent to distribute under § 5–602 could apply for expungement. They may petition after completing their sentence.
The law aims to reduce the disproportionate impact of marijuana-related laws. Furthermore, the REDEEM Act of 2023 included commentary on racial equity. Lawmakers intend for it to improve opportunities for Black or African American individuals. The racial equity impact statement states, “Maryland incarcerates those individuals at disproportionately high rates.”
The REDEEM Act of 2023 provided examples of how it would improve the waiting periods. One example includes the following:
“A petition for expungement of a conviction of possession with intent to distribute cannabis under § 5–602 of the Criminal Law Article may not be filed earlier than three years after the person satisfies the sentence or sentences imposed for all convictions for which expungement is requested, including parole, probation, or mandatory supervision.”
However, prosecutors will maintain the 30-day time limit to object expungement petitions. This timeframe begins after an individual files for expungement. However, most petitions take roughly 90 days to complete.
The new bill has also reduced the impact of court fees and costs associated with expungements. Specifically, unpaid court costs and fees will not serve as a bar to expungement under the law. In addition, the courts can now waive fees for cannabis-related expungements. However, these waived fines will not order restitution to a victim.
This law has now taken effect, allowing courts to expunge many newly qualifying offenses. For employers, many previously disqualified applicants can apply for various positions. Employers should review their policies and background-checking processes to comply with the REDEEM Act 2023. One way to succeed is by partnering with a trustworthy background screening provider.
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