Redeem Act Will Soon Reduce Expungement Wait Time in Maryland

September 28, 2023

Waiting periods for some expungements in Maryland will soon be shorter. On October 1, 2023, Senate Bill 37, also known as the Redeem Act, will take effect. When it does, waiting periods for some expungements in Maryland will reduce. 

This result is because the period to file for expungement of eligible convictions could shorten to roughly half the current time. The current waiting period for eligible misdemeanors is ten years, and 15 for felonies. Under the new law, the waiting period for a listed misdemeanor will typically be five years; listed felonies will generally be seven. 

What It Does

The law also permits individuals convicted of marijuana possession to file for an expungement as soon as they complete their sentence. Once an individual files to have a conviction expunged, completing the process should take approximately 90 days. However, prosecutors will have 30 days to object after the individual files a petition.

Furthermore, the Redeem Act waves some costs and court fees associated with having a cannabis offense expunged. However, the Act does not offer waivers for orders of restitution. It also addressed the racial impact of expunging records. 

It stated that the waiting periods affected people of color more than others; Black and African Americans suffered the most. The Act further revealed that these people faced a disproportionately high incarceration rate. As such, this bill intends to align Maryland’s relatively stringent regulations more closely with other states.

How It Came About

In January 2021, the chairpersons of the Legislative Judiciary Committees received a letter from the Maryland Judiciary. In the letter, the Judiciary expressed concerns about the costs of expunging a case. The letter specifically mentioned court costs, outstanding fees, and Criminal Injury Compensation Fund fees.

Senator Jeff Waldstreicher sponsored the Redeem Act and explained how it would help Maryland catch up with other states. In his explanation, he admitted that Maryland’s expungement laws have proven limited and conservative due to tradition. As such, he hopes the Redeem Act will expand the regulations and shorten waiting times, similar to what other states have enacted.

As Maryland employers prepare for the Redeem Act to take effect, they should review existing policies and procedures regarding criminal history. In many cases, they may find outdated policies that restrict employment opportunities. These restrictions prevent applicants with criminal records from applying for or acquiring work. Employers should consider revising these policies to become more inclusive and set up a second-chance hiring program to ensure fair opportunities. A great place to start is by working with a background screening provider. The right partner will use their experience with second-chance hiring to ensure employers comply with regulations like the Redeem Act.

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