Restoration of Rights, Pardon, Expungement & Sealing
Last updated: January 6, 2018
I. Restoration of Civil/Firearms Rights
The Maryland Constitution authorizes the General Assembly to disqualify persons from voting who are convicted of “infamous or other serious crime.” Md. Const. art. I, § 4. With one exception, disenfranchisement is limited to persons convicted of a felony who are “currently serving a court-ordered sentence of imprisonment for the conviction,” Md. Code Ann., Election Law § 3-102(b)(1), and the vote is restored automatically upon release.1 The exception is for persons convicted of buying or selling votes, who are not qualified to vote even after fulfilling their court-ordered sentence. § 3-102(b)(3).
A person is ineligible to hold an elective office if at any time after election/appointment and prior to completion of their term, the person ceases to be a registered voter. Md. Const. art. I, § 12. Once restored to the franchise, convicted persons also regain the right to hold office.
Persons are disqualified from jury service if convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment exceeding 6 months, and sentenced to more than 6 months’ imprisonment. Md. Code Ann., Courts and Judicial Proceedings § 8-103(b)(4). Jury rights are restored by pardon. § 8-103(c).
Md. Code Ann., Criminal Law § 5-622 prohibits anyone convicted of a felony from possessing any firearm, including an antique firearm as defined in § 4-201, subject to a penalty not to exceed five years’ imprisonment. Relief is available only through pardon.
In addition, a person convicted of a “disqualifying crime” who possesses a “regulated firearm” is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years. Md. Code Ann., Public Safety § 5-133(b)(1). A disqualifying crime includes a crime of violence, a felony, and “a violation classified as a misdemeanor in the State that carries a statutory penalty of more than 2 years.” Id., § 5-101(c), (g). A “regulated firearm” includes handguns and certain specified assault weapons as defined in Md. Code Ann., Public Safety, §§ 5-101(h), (n), and (p). Persons “convicted of a violation classified as a common law crime and [who] received a term of imprisonment of more than 2 years” also may not possess a “regulated firearm.” § 5-133(b)(2). Prosecutors have broad authority to choose which statute to charge. See State v. Lee, 178 Md. App. 478, 943 A.2d 14 (Ct. Spec. App. 2008)(trial court exceeded its authority in substituting less serious charge in plea context).
Persons who may not possess a “regulated firearm” cannot be a firearms “dealer.” § 5-101(d); 5-107(b)(4)(iii)-(iv).
Rifles and shotguns
Under Md. Code Ann., Public Safety §§ 5-206(b), a person may not possess a rifle or shotgun if he was previously convicted of a “crime of violence” or certain drug offenses. See §§ 5-101(c) (defining crime of violence); 5-206(a).
A person may not be issued a handgun permit if he has been convicted of “a felony or of a misdemeanor for which a sentence of imprisonment for more than 1 year has been imposed,” or a crime involving possession or use of a controlled substance; or, if under 30 years of age, adjudicated delinquent for an offense that would be a felony, a crime of violence, or an act that would be a misdemeanor in this State that carries a statutory penalty of more than 2 years if committed by an adult.” See Code Ann., Public Safety §§ 5-306(a), (b).
D. Other Collateral Consequences
A partial catalogue of collateral consequences for Maryland offenders is contained in the study produced by the University of Maryland School of Law Reentry of Ex-Offenders Clinic, “A Report on Collateral Consequences of Criminal Convictions in Maryland” (rev. Spring 2007), available at http://www.sentencingproject.org/doc/publications/cc_report2007.pdf. See also Homeless Persons Representation Project, “Ex-Offenders and Employment: A Review of Maryland’s Public Policy and a Look at Other States” (December 2001, rev. June 2002), available at http://www.hprplaw.org/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&layout=item&id=20&Itemid=73, documenting a number of situations in which people with convictions are barred by law from certain jobs and occupations.
II. Discretionary Restoration Mechanisms
The pardon power is vested in the governor, except in cases of impeachment. Md. Const. art. II, § 20; see also Md. Code Ann., Correctional Services § 7-601. The Constitution requires the governor to publish notice in one or more newspapers of earliest date he will grant pardon, and to report to the legislature each grant and reasons there for. Md. Const. art. II, § 20.
The Maryland Parole Commission is responsible for reviewing and making recommendations on pardon applications if requested by the governor, but its advice is not binding. Md. Code Ann., Correctional Services § 7-206(3)(ii).2 The Parole Commission consists of 10 members appointed to six-year terms by the Secretary of Public Safety and Correctional Services. § 7-202. Full-time salaried employees are subject to removal only for cause by the secretary (with concurrence of governor). § 7-203.
Md. Code Regs. tit. 12, § 08.01.16(C) provides that “[p]roof of successful completion of any parole or probation, or both, which may have been imposed, plus a reasonable length of satisfactory adjustment in the community beyond the maximum expiration date of sentence, is preferred for a favorable pardon recommendation.” Under informal Parole Commission rules, applicants with felony convictions must have ten crime-free years to be eligible (seven if a Parole Commission waiver is granted); misdemeanants must have five crime-free years. There is a twenty-year wait for crimes of violence and for controlled substances violations (or fifteen if waiver granted). See Parole Commission “Frequently Asked Questions” about pardons, Question #6, http://www.dpscs.state.md.us/about/FAQmpc.shtml. A person convicted under federal law or the law of another state is ineligible for a gubernatorial pardon. See general description on http://www.dpscs.state.md.us/publicservs/pardons.shtml.
A pardon may be available where an individual has been charged with a crime but has not yet been convicted:
The decision to pardon certain individuals has arisen when an individual is charged and a nolle prosequi is entered or the charge is stetted. This has proven especially helpful for individuals who wish to obtain security clearance (and, thus, maintain their jobs) under the new Homeland Security/TSA rules that govern airport employees (apparently, a nolle prosequi under those guidelines is tantamount to a ‘conviction’).
E-mail from Chrysovalantis “Chrys” P. Kefalas, Deputy Counsel, Governor’s Office, June 10, 2005 (on file with author). In such cases there is no eligibility period. Id.
Pardon lifts all disabilities and penalties imposed because of the conviction. Firearms rights must be separately restored in pardon document.
A court may expunge the record if the person has been convicted of only one criminal act, and that act is not a crime of violence; and is granted a full and unconditional pardon by the Governor. Md. Code Crim. Proc. § 10-105(8).
The form for applying for pardon can be downloaded from the website of the Maryland Parole Commission, which Commission determines if the applicant is eligible according to Maryland guidelines. See https://www.dpscs.state.md.us/publicservs/pdfs/Application-for-Pardon-Revised.pdf. If eligible, the Commission directs the Division of Parole and Probation to conduct an Executive Clemency investigation of the petitioner. Md. Code Regs. tit. 12, § 08.01.16(B). Upon the victim’s request, the victim most be notified. See Md. Code Ann., Correctional Services § 7-805. There is no formal hearing, and a case is reviewed on a paper record. Once the pardon investigation is completed, the case returns to the Commission for its review and recommendation. The application, the Division of Parole and Probation investigation report, and the Commission’s recommendation are then submitted to the governor’s legal counsel for review. The governor may choose to accept, modify, or reject the Commission’s recommendation. For purposes of effectuating a pardon, the governor must issue a written executive order under the great seal. Md. Code Ann., Correctional Services § 7-601(b)(1). In addition, the Maryland Constitution requires the governor to “give notice, in one or more newspapers, of the application made for [pardon], and of the day on, or after which, his decision will be given.” Md. Const. art. II, § 20. If pardon is denied, an applicant may reapply after a “reasonable time.” Md. Code Regs. tit. 12, § 08.01.16(B).
The Commission considers the following factors in connection with a petitioner’s request for a pardon: (1) the nature and circumstances of the crime; (2) effect of a pardon on the victim and community; (3) the sentence given; (4) the other anti-social behavior of the petitioner; (5) the subsequent rehabilitation of the petitioner; (6) the age and health of the petitioner; and (6) the reason the pardon is needed. Parole Commission “Frequently Asked Questions” about pardons, Question #7, http://www.dpscs.state.md.us/about/FAQmpc.shtml. 3
Frequency of Grants
Governor Larry Hogan issued no pardons in his first 30 months in office, despite having indicated an interest in increasing the number of pardons during his campaign for election. See The power to pardon, The Baltimore Sun (Jan. 23, 2015), http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/editorial/bs-ed-parole-20150125-story.html. Governor Martin O’Malley (2008-2015) granted 146 pardons in eight years in office, all but thirteen in his final three years in office, and rejected about 1300 applications. See Justin Fenton, O’Malley increases pardons, but remains stingy overall, Baltimore Sun., Dec. 18, 2014, http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/bs-md-omalley-pardons-20141213-story.html#page=1. See also John Wagner, O’Malley Puts the Brakes on Clemency in Md., The Washington Post, June 21, 2009, at C1, available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/20/AR2009062001629.html. Governor Ehrlich granted 228 pardons out of a total of 439 applications considered. (Also, he granted fifteen commutations, including five life sentences, and in addition six medical paroles during his tenure.) Governor Ehrlich considered pardon applications on a regular basis, reviewing about 20 cases each month, issuing pardons every two or three months. Source: Office of the Governor.
David R. Blumberg
Chair, Maryland Parole Commission
Linda L. Dodge
Administrative Officer, Executive Clemencies & Pardons
Pardon applications available at:
Additional information can be found by contacting the Pardon Application Coordinator at (410) 585-3200 or toll-free (877) 241-5428. See Parole Commission, “Frequently Asked Questions,” supra, Questions # 10-11.
B. Judicial sealing or expungement
1. Conviction records
a. Expungement of misdemeanor convictions
In May of 2016, Maryland enacted the Justice Reinvestment Act, authorizing expungement of police, conviction, and other official records for enumerated misdemeanor offenses. See SB-1005 (2016), available at http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2016RS/Chapters_noln/CH_515_sb1005e.pdf (Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 10-110). The law will take effect October 1, 2017. Expungement confers greater benefits than shielding (discussed below) and is available for more offenses, but the waiting period for expungement is far longer (10/15 years vs. 3 years). 4
Over 100 enumerated misdemeanors are eligible, including second degree assault, drug possession, prostitution, theft, disorderly conduct, various fraud offenses, and various regulatory offenses. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 10-110(A). A waiting period of 10 years from completion of sentence (including any period of probation, parole, or mandatory supervision) applies for all offenses except for second degree assault under Md. Crim. Law Code § 3-203 and offenses classified as “domestically related crimes” under Md. Crim. Proc. Code § 6-233, for which a 15-year waiting period applies. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 10-110(C). “If the person is convicted of a new crime during [the waiting period], the original conviction or convictions are not eligible for expungement unless the new conviction becomes eligible for expungement.” § 10-110(D)(1). Individuals with pending criminal charges are not eligible. § 10-110(D)(2). If one offense stemming from a single incident is ineligible for expungement, then all offenses stemming from the incident are ineligible. §§ 10-110(D)(3), 10-107 (this is known as the “unit rule”).
Procedure and criteria
Petition is filed in court in which proceedings began, with exceptions for cases that were transferred or appealed. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 10-110(B). The court serves notice to the State’s Attorney and victims, who have 30 days to object to the petition. § 10-110(E). Court must order expungement if no objection is filed after 30 days. § 10-110(E)(3). If either the State’s Attorney or victim object, the court must hold a hearing, and the court’s determination is guided by § 10-110(F)(2). If the person meets the statutory eligibility requirements, the court must grant expungement upon finding:
- that giving due regard to the nature of the crime, the history and character of the person, and the person’s success at rehabilitation, the person is not a risk to public safety; and
- that an expungement would be in the best interest of justice.
§ 10-110(F)(2)(II), (III). Petitioner and State’s Attorney are entitled to appellate review of the court’s decision. § 10-110(I). Unless an order is appealed, every custodian of police and court records subject to the order must notify the court and petitioner of compliance with the expungement order.
A record that has been expunged may be opened only upon court order, with notice to the person concerned and a hearing, or upon ex parte application by the State’s attorney and a showing of good cause (including that the record is needed by law enforcement). Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. §§ 10-108(a) through (c). Violation of this is a misdemeanor. § 10-108(d). Expunged records are kept separately for three years, then destroyed. See §§ 4-511, 4-512. A person may not be required to disclose information about expunged records to an employer, educational institution, or government licensing agency. §§ 10-109(a)(1)-(2). Refusal by a person to disclose information about criminal records that have been expunged may not be the sole reason for an employer to discharge or refuse to hire the person, or for a government licensing agency to deny the person’s application. § 10-109(a)(3). Violation is a misdemeanor, and a government official who violates may be dismissed from public service. § 10-109(b). Applicants for positions that require the carrying of firearms should be asked for information about past criminal activity for purposes of the federal firearms statute even if records have been expunged. 71 Md. Op. Att’y Gen. 242 (1986).
b. “Shielding” (sealing) of misdemeanor convictions
Under the Maryland Second Chance Act of 2015, Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 10-301 et seq., a handful of minor misdemeanor convictions are eligible for “shielding” (the functional equivalent of sealing in other jurisdictions). Shielding is distinct from “expungement,” which is also available for certain misdemeanor convictions after a much longer waiting period, as described in the preceding section.
Shielding is available only for twelve enumerated non-violent misdemeanors, ranging from malicious destruction of property to prostitution and possession of a controlled dangerous substance. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 10-301(f). Any offense sentenced as a “domestically related crime” is ineligible. § 10-302(a). A person may only petition for shielding once in their lifetime, though a single petition may seek sealing of multiple convictions so long as the convictions are from the same county. § 10-303(e)(4), (a). A waiting period of three years following satisfaction of sentence, including any period of community supervision, applies. § 10-303(a). If a person is convicted of an additional offense before filing a petition to shield, then the prior conviction may only be shielded when the intervening conviction becomes eligible for shielding. § 10-303(b)(1).
No hearing is necessary unless the State’s Attorney objects to the petition. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 10-303(d). Prior to granting a shielding petition, the court must notify victims of the relevant offenses and allow them to submit relevant information to the court. Id. The court may grant a petition without a hearing “after taking into consideration any objections or additional information provided by the State’s Attorney or the victim.” § 10-303(d)(2). Upon a hearing, the court may grant the petition “for good cause” if otherwise eligible. § 10-303(e)(3).
Shielding has the effect of rendering “a court record and police record relating to a conviction of a crime inaccessible by members of the public,” and such records are not accessible on the Maryland Judiciary Case Search (which provides public access to state court records). Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. §§ 10-302, -304. Sealing does not restore rights lost as a result of a conviction and does not make the conviction “disappear.” However, a shielded conviction does not count as a conviction for the purpose of determining eligibility for PBJ expungement or expungement of decriminalized offenses. § 10-305. In general, employers, educational institutions, and government licensing and services agencies may not require a person to disclose shielded convictions on an application or in an interview and may not take adverse action against a person for refusing to disclose such convictions. § 10-306. There are some major exceptions that threaten to swallow this rule, however. Notably, any employer or licensing agency that is required or authorized by law to inquire into a person’s criminal record may access a person’s shielded record. § 10-302(B)(2). Exceptions also apply to health occupations boards, child care facilities, and the medical marijuana commission, among others.
In addition to expungement of the record in certain misdemeanor cases (see above), the court has authority to expunge the record in the following situations:
- Non-violent first offenders who have been granted a full and unconditional pardon. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 10-105(a)(8). Application must be filed no later than ten years after pardon granted. § 10-105(c)(4).
- Certain minor nuisance crimes (public urination, drinking in public, panhandling, loitering, vagrancy, etc.), three years after completion of sentence. § 10-105(a)(9), (c)(6).
- Non-conviction records (acquittals, nolle prosequis, dismissed charges, probation before judgment (“PBJ”)) after a three-year waiting period (after final action on charges, or completion of treatment), as long as no pending charges (or, additionally, any intervening convictions for a PBJ). Records may be opened only upon court order. 10-105(a)(1)-(4) and (c)(1)-(2). See below for discussion of PBJ procedure.
- Charges transferred to juvenile court. § 10-105(a)(7); 10-106.
- Police records of arrests not leading to charges. § 10-103; 10-103.1.5
- Conviction records for decriminalized offenses. § 10-105(a)(11).
- Conviction records for possession of marijuana. § 10-105(a)(12)
The petition form is available at http://www.courts.state.md.us/courtforms/joint/ccdccr072.pdf. A $30 fee is required. See http://www.courts.state.md.us/circuit/feesummaryschedule.pdf. The State’s attorney receives a copy of the petition for expungement and is a mandatory party to the proceeding. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. §§ 10-105(d), (e), (g). The State’s attorney has 30 days to respond to the petition, and if State’s attorney objects, a hearing is held to determine whether the person is entitled to expungement. Id. An expungement order may be appealed. § 10-105(g). See also State v. Nelson, 847 A.2d 1184, 1189 (Md. App. 2004) (State entitled to 30-day period to file objection and court cannot proceed to hearing prior to expiration of that period absent an articulated waiver by the State).
Per Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 10-107, if any single charge in arising from the same incident is ineligible, then every charge arising from that incident is ineligible (this is known as “the unit rule”).
The effect of expungement is the same as that described for misdemeanor convictions in the preceding sections. For non-conviction dispositions, an expunged record may not be used as predicate, or to enhance sentence. See Jones v. Baltimore City Police Dep’t, 606 A.2d 214, 218 (Md. 1992).
3. Probation before Judgment (“PBJ”) and expungement
Subject to the provisions of the Maryland sentencing guidelines, the court may defer judgment and place a defendant on probation subject to reasonable conditions, if (i) the court finds that the best interests of the defendant and the public welfare would be served; and (ii) if the defendant gives written consent after determination of guilt or acceptance of a nolo contendere plea. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 6-220(b)(1). Terms of probation may include payment of fine or restitution, or participation in a treatment program. § 6-220(b)(2). Upon successful completion of probation, the court shall discharge the defendant from probation without judgment of conviction, and such discharge “is not a conviction for the purpose of any disqualification or disability imposed by law because of conviction of a crime.” § 6-220(g). A person discharged from probation may petition the court for expungement of police and court records relating to the charges after a three-year waiting period, as long as the petitioner has not been convicted of any crime other than a minor traffic violation, and is not a defendant in a pending criminal proceeding. §§ 10-105(a)(3), (c)(2)(ii), (e)(4).
A PBJ plea that has been expunged may not be used to enhance a subsequent sentence. See Jones, 606 A.2d at 218 (“A disposition of probation before judgment cannot be considered a predicate offense for imposition of certain recidivist penalties imposed by law; there is no assessment of points when probation before judgment is granted after a finding of guilt on a motor vehicle charge; and a sentence of probation before judgment is not entered upon a defendant’s public driving record.”). Cf. United States v. Bagheri, 999 F.2d 80 (4th Cir. 1993) (noting distinction between PBJ disposition, which may be considered if not expunged, and expunged record, which may not). See also “Effect of expungement” at Part II, B(2)(c), supra.
Motion for Modification
Under Md. Rule 4-345, upon motion filed within 90 days after imposition of a sentence, the court has revisory power over a sentence for five years from the date the sentence originally was imposed, and may upon motion reduce a sentence to probation before judgment, so as to make a defendant eligible for expungement under Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 10-105(a)(3).
4. Judicial sealing of juvenile court records
Police and courts records concerning a child are confidential and may not be divulged except by court order for good cause or to certain school officials for certain reportable offenses. Md. Code Ann., Courts and Judicial Proceedings § 3-8A-27. Access and use is permitted by the Department of Juvenile Services, law enforcement agencies, and certain governmental bodies in certain circumstances. Id. If good cause is shown, the court may order court records of a child sealed at any time, and must order sealing upon motion or petition when the child reaches 21 years of age. If sealed, court records cannot be opened for any purpose except by court order for good cause shown. § 3-8A-27(c). See also § 3-827(c) (confidentiality of juvenile court records for children “in need of assistance” who require court intervention).
III. Nondiscrimination in occupational licensing and employment
A. Ban-the-Box in public employment
Effective October 2013, state government employers may not inquire about an applicant’s criminal history until an applicant has had an opportunity for an interview. Md. Code Ann., State Pers. & Pens. § 2-203 (enacted by 2013 Maryland Laws Ch. 160, § 1 (S.B. 4). Certain positions are exempt, including law enforcement-related positions and positions where a criminal records check is mandated by statute. See id.
Since 2007, the city of Baltimore has had its own ban-the-box policy for public employment. The criminal history of potential administrative hires in “positions of trust” are not investigated or inquired about until the final stages of the hiring process. See Policy AM-237-1 at http://www.nelp.org/page/-/SCLP/BaltimorePolicyonPositionsofTrust.pdf?nocdn=1; see also National Employment Law Project, Ban the Box Resource Guide 7 (2013), available at http://www.nelp.org/page/-/SCLP/2011/CityandCountyHiringInitiatives.pdf?nocdn=1. Additionally, a conviction may only be disqualifying after “fair consideration of the relationship between an conviction and the applicant’s suitability for a particular position.” AM-237-1 at 4.
Under state law, a consumer reporting agency cannot report conviction information that is older than seven years for purposes of employment, if the job about which information sought is expected to pay an annual salary less than $20,000. Md. Code Ann., Com. Law § 14-1203(a)(5). See also Part II B, supra, regarding disclosure of arrest or conviction that has been expunged in context of application for employment, education, or government license. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 10-109.
Md. Crim. Proc. Code § 1-209(d):
A department may not deny an occupational license or certificate to an applicant solely on the basis that the applicant has previously been convicted of a crime, unless the department determines that:
(1) there is a direct relationship between the applicant’s previous conviction and the specific occupational license or certificate sought; or
(2) the issuance of the license or certificate would involve an unreasonable risk to property or to the safety or welfare of specific individuals or the general public.
Standards for making these determinations are set forth at § 1-209(e), and restated at COMAR (Code of Md Reg) 09.01.10.02:
The following standards shall be considered in the grant, denial, renewal, or revocation of a license, when an applicant or licensee has been convicted of a crime:
- The nature of the crime;
- The relationship of the crime to the activities authorized by the license;
- The relevance of the conviction to the fitness and qualification of the applicant or licensee to perform the occupation authorized by the license;
- Other crimes of which the applicant or licensee has been convicted;
- The length of time since the conviction;
- The behavior and activities of the applicant or licensee before, and subsequent to, the conviction.
Drug convictions are specifically subject to a similar analysis under statute. See Md. State Gov’t Code § 10-1405.
Certificate of Rehabilitation
Beginning October 2017, the Department of Corrections “shall issue” a Certificate of Rehabilitation to individuals convicted of non-violent and non-sexual felonies and misdemeanors who were supervised by the Division of Parole and Probation under conditions of parole, probation, or mandatory release supervision, and who have completed all such conditions. Md. Code Ann., Corr. Servs. § 7-104 (enacted by the 2016 Justice Reinvestment Act, SB-1005). Notwithstanding the law’s mandatory language, the Department is required to promulgate rules establishing an application and review process that allows the state’s attorney and victim to object to issuance. § 7-104(G). Only one certificate may be issued in a person’s lifetime. § 7-104(E).
A licensing board may not deny an occupational license or certificate to an applicant who has been issued a certificate of rehabilitation solely on the basis that the applicant has previously been convicted of the crime that is the subject of the certificate of rehabilitation, unless the licensing board determines that:
- There is a direct relationship between the applicant’s previous conviction and the specific occupational license or certificate sought; or
- The issuance of the license or certificate would involve an unreasonable risk to property or to the safety or welfare of specific individuals or the general public.
§ 7-104(C). When determining whether a conviction is directly related to a license or involves a risk to property or the public a board must consider a list of factors similar to those in COMAR 09.01.10.02, described in the previous section. § 7-104(D)
- Prior to February 2016, felony offenders did not regain the right to vote until the completion of any period of probation or parole. The 2015 bill that limited disenfranchisement to those serving a prison term was enacted over the veto of Governor Larry Hogan. See Erin Cox, Released felons gain right to vote in Maryland after veto override, Balt. Sun, Feb. 10, 2015, available at http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/bs-md-felons-voting-20160209-story.html. Eight years earlier, the 2007 Voting Registration Protection Act restored the vote to most after completion of sentence. Prior to that time, recidivists were required to wait three years after completion of sentence, and people convicted of two or more crimes of violence were permanently disenfranchised unless pardoned. Persons convicted of bribery, attempted bribery, or buying or selling votes, whether felony or misdemeanor, were permanently disenfranchised and disqualified from holding office, unless pardoned. Passage of the 2007 Act also obviated the confusion historically surrounding the constitutional term “infamous or other serious crime,” which had been held to include some misdemeanors that were regarded as crimes of moral turpitude under the common law, such as perjury. See, e.g., Brennan Center for Justice,Maryland Voter Registration Protection Act of 2007, available at http://www.brennancenter.org/page/-/d/download_file_48254.pdf. Prior to the passage of the 2007 Act, the most recent list of disqualifying offenses issued by the Office of the Attorney General, dated July 2004, was 21 pages long and included as “infamous crimes” a large number of offenses that appear at least potentially to be misdemeanors. See also Theiss v. State Admin. Bd. of Elec. Laws, 387 F. Supp. 1038, 1040 n. 3 (D. Md. 1974) (1973 “laundry list” includes shoplifting, “child abuse,” and “various offenses relative to prostitution).
- The governor also has authority to issue partial and conditional pardons. Md. Code Ann., Correctional Services §§ 7-601(a)(2), (b)(2). The governor is the sole judge of whether a condition of a conditional pardon is violated, but the Parole Commission may hear cases of alleged violations of conditional pardons if so delegated by the governor. §§ 7-602; 7-205(a)(8).
- “No one convicted of first-degree murder in Maryland has ever been pardoned.” Don Markus, Columbia Man, 18, Pleads Guilty to Assault, Armed Robbery, The Baltimore Sun, July 28, 2009, at 5A, available at http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2009-07-28/news/0907270070_1_murder-sentence-fleming-columbia-man.
- Note, however, that four of the twelve offenses that are eligible for shielding are not also eligible for expungement.
- Police investigative files are not subject to expungement. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 10-102(c)(5)-(6). See also Gigeous v. Eastern Correctional Institution, 752 A.2d 1238 (Md. App. 2000), aff’d, 769 A.2d 912 (Md. 2001) (investigatory files not subject to expungement and can be used for police investigative purposes).