A Breakdown of the 2015 “Second Chance Act”
Don’t we all deserve a second chance?
BY: David Zwanetz
One of the most difficult aspects of criminal defense work is explaining to our clients that a one-time lapse in judgment could result in a record that will follow him or her for life. Next to being incarcerated, having future job prospects or school opportunities hampered by the scarlet letter that often stems from a criminal conviction or probation before judgment, is our clients’ main fear. Thankfully, the Maryland Legislature has taken heed with the 2015 “Maryland Second Chance Act.” This allows certain criminal case dispositions to be “shielded” from public view. We want to be sure that our clients and prospective clients know about this new law so that if anyone out there is experiencing setbacks from past conduct, and we can help to clear the path, we do.
Here is a breakdown of the Second Chance Act:
The law on the shielding of documents is contained in Criminal Procedure Article § 10-301 et seq. Again, this is a brand new statute and is limited to only certain convictions. That being said, a Petition to Shield may be filed no earlier than 3 years after the person satisfies the operating sentence or sentences imposed for all convictions for which shielding is requested, including parole, probation, or mandatory supervision.
The person cannot be convicted of a new crime during the application period or be a defendant in a pending criminal proceeding.
As is the case with expungements, if a person is not eligible for shielding of one conviction in a unit, the person is not eligible for shielding of any other conviction in the unit.
As with expungements, the State’s Attorney may file an objection to the petition for shielding within 30 days after the petition is served. The Court may hold a hearing and they shall order the shielding of all police records and court records relating to the conviction or convictions if the person is entitled and the Court may grant a petition under this subsection for good cause.
A person may be granted only one shielding petition over the lifetime of the person.
“Shield” means to render a court record and police record relating to a conviction of a crime inaccessible by members of the public. The list of convictions that are shieldable include:
- Disorderly Conduct under § 10-201(c)(2) of the Criminal Law Article;
- Disturbing the Peace under § 10-201(c)(4) of the Criminal Law Article;
- Failure to Obey a Reasonable and Lawful Order under § 10-201(c)(3) of the Criminal Law Article;
- Malicious Destruction of Property in the lesser degree under § 6-301 of the Criminal Law Article;
- Trespass on Posted Property under § 6-402 of the Criminal Law Article;
- Possessing or Administering a Controlled Dangerous Substance under § 5-601 of the Criminal Law Article;
- Possessing or Administering a Non-controlled Substance under § 5-618(a) of the Criminal Law Article;
- Use of or Possession With Intent to Use Drug Paraphernalia under § 5-619(c)(2) of the Criminal Law Article;
- Driving Without a License under § 16-101 of the Transportation Article;
- Driving While Privilege is Canceled, Suspended, Refused, or Revoked under § 16-303 of the Transportation Article;
- Driving While Uninsured under § 17-107 of the Transportation Article; or
- Prostitution offenses under § 11-306(a)(1) of the Criminal Law Article, if the conviction is for prostitution and not assignation.
If any of the above charges are affecting you negatively, and you would like to sit down with a member of SZA to discuss the filing of a one-time Motion to Shield, please feel free to contact us for a FREE consultation. Our mission at SZA is not only to assist our clients with the legal issues, but to help foster the betterment of the lives of our clients as a whole. The “Second Chance Act” fits squarely within our mission statement and we want to be sure that this new law is taken advantage of by anyone who may need it.