Earlier this month, Maryland governor Larry Hogan signed the Second Chance Act of 2015, 2015 Md. Laws 313 (HB 244), which allows eligible persons to petition a court for “shielding” (or sealing) certain misdemeanor records. This is the first time Maryland has authorized limits on public access to conviction records other than nuisance offenses and offenses that have been pardoned.
The new law, which goes into effect on October 1, is a significant step forward in the treatment of conviction records in the state. However, its effect may not be as sweeping as many would like. Only a handful of misdemeanor offenses are eligible for relief, and records that have been generally shielded from public access remain available to a significant number of employers and licensing entities. We take a more detailed look at the new law below.