New expungement legislation: Maryland and Oklahoma

The trend toward expanding expungement and sealing laws is continuing.  In the last week of April, the governors of Maryland and Oklahoma signed bills enlarging eligibility criteria and reducing waiting periods, joining Florida and Utah with new record-sealing enactments in 2018.  The provisions of these two newest laws are described below.  Similar legislation is well along in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Vermont.  Vermont S 173, enrolled and awaiting the governor’s signature, is of particular interest since it makes expungement automatic in some categories without the requirement of a petition or filing fee (“unless either party objects in the interest of justice”).   We are tracking these pending bills and will add them to the Restoration of Rights Project if and when they are enacted.

Oklahoma:  On April 26, 2018, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallon signed into law SB 650, making felony offenders eligible for expungement (sealing) for the first time without requiring that they first be pardoned.  Effective November 1, 2018, a person may apply to the court for expungement of a single nonviolent felony conviction 5 years after completion of sentence, if the person has not been convicted of any other felony or separate misdemeanor in the past seven (7) years,  and if no felony or misdemeanor charges are pending. Okla. Stat. Ann. § 18(A)(12) (as amended by SB 650 (2018)).  The 2018 law reduces the waiting period from 10 years to five; deletes a requirement that the person have no prior felonies, or any separate misdemeanor in the past 15 years; and omits a requirement that the person first be pardoned. Okla. Stat. Ann. § 18(A)(12), as amended.  Oklahoma’s additional provisions for expungement of misdemeanor convictions, non-conviction records, and pardoned felonies are explained in the Oklahoma profile from the Restoration of Rights Project.

Maryland:  On April 24, Governor Larry Hogan signed SB 101, adding felony offenses involving theft, drug trafficking and burglary to the list of more than 100 misdemeanors first made eligible for expungement in 2016.  The waiting period for felonies is 15 years after completion of sentence, while most misdemeanants must wait 10 years. (Misdemeanors involving “domestically related crimes” and second degree assault are subject to a 15-year waiting period.)  In addition, SB 101 eliminated the three-year waiting period previously applicable to expungement of non-conviction records, except for “probation before judgment” cases.  The new provisions are explained in greater detail in the Maryland profile from the Restoration of Rights Project. 

Also in April 2018, the Maryland legislature acted favorably on a bill to require state licensing agencies to report by October 1, 2018 on the number of licenses granted or denied based on conviction in the past five years.  The fact that HB 1597 has been awaiting Governor Hogan’s action for more than a month does not bode well for its prospects.  States that have enacted new general occupational licensing requirements this year include Indiana, Tennessee, Arizona, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Nebraska, with an enrolled bill awaiting action in Kansas.  These new laws are the subject of several recent posts (see, e.g., here and here) and are written up in detail in the relevant state profiles from the RRP.