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New Maryland Laws Take Effect on October 1, 2015 – Spotlight on Shielding

Posted by Chi Song on September 25, 2015

New Maryland laws take effect on October 1, 2015!  We will be publishing a series of posts highlighting a few of the newly enacted laws.  This series is just a small sampling of the new laws enacted by the 2015 Legislative Session.  To read about more laws resulting from the 2015 session, see the 90 Day Report – A Review of the 2015 Session published by the Department of Legislative Services (DLS) of the General Assembly of Maryland. For a full listing of new laws effective October 1, 2015, check out this publication from DLS.

Maryland Second Chance Act of 2015 – House Bill 244 (Chapter 0313) – This new law authorizes “a person to petition the court to shield court records and police records relating to shieldable convictions no earlier than 3 years after the person satisfies the sentence or sentences imposed for all convictions for which shielding is requested”, however, “if a person is convicted of a new crime during a specified time period, the original conviction or convictions are not eligible for shielding unless the new conviction becomes eligible for shielding.” You can learn more about this new law, including its legislative history, here.

What is shielding? Shielding means making “a court record and police record relating to a conviction of a crime inaccessible by members of the public. Also, the Maryland Judiciary Case Search may not in any way refer to the existence of specific records shielded in accordance with the bill.”

What’s the difference between shielding and expungement? When a record has been expunged, it has been totally deleted from the court system and other places where the record is held, such as the Police Department, Archives, and State’s Attorney’s office. However, when a record is shielded, it means that the public cannot view the record; however, the record still exists.

To learn more about public access to court records, check out these Maryland Judiciary Publications. Don’t forget, the Law Library is always available to assist your with your legal research, including locating referrals.

Note that all quotations, unless noted otherwise, are attributable to the 90 Day Report – A Review of the 2015 Session published by the Department of Legislative Services of the General Assembly of Maryland, which is available online at http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/Pubs/LegisLegal/2015rs-90-day-report.pdf.

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