Marylanders who are waiting the required amount of time to expunge a criminal offense from their records may get a welcome reprieve in the upcoming state legislative session. One piece of proposed legislation is called the REDEEM Act.
The REDEEM Act would lower the amount of time a person has to wait to seek an expungement for a misdemeanor from ten years following the end of their sentence (including any probation or parole period) to three years for misdemeanors. It would lower the waiting period for nonviolent felonies from 15 years to five years.
Expungement can open up more opportunities for those with a record
Advocates for the legislation argue that by being able to get offenses removed or hidden from their record earlier than they currently can, Marylanders improve their chances of getting a home, employment and other opportunities that include a background check.
As one advocate notes, “If people do not have access to employment, housing, education, what are they going to do to survive? This is our crime-fighting strategy as well as our employment and jobs strategy.” He calls the current extended waiting periods a “second sentence” for a conviction years in the past.
Cannabis possession expungements
With the legalization of recreational marijuana by the voters in last November’s election, we can also expect more expungements for previous cannabis possession charges. The legalization, which takes effect later this year, includes automatic expungements of these charges if they weren’t accompanied by others. Those must be expunged by the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services by July of 2024.
Another piece of proposed legislation would expand the automatic expungement to include those charges, even if they were accompanied by others. Governor-elect Wes Moore will also have the authority to pardon those with cannabis possession charges, much as President Joe Biden has done with federal charges. Moore has expressed support for such pardons in the past.
If you’re interested in having your record expunged for a misdemeanor or nonviolent felony, it’s important to watch what happens with REDEEM Act and other legislation. It’s also wise to seek legal guidance to have the best chance of getting your record expunged as soon as you’re able to.