With the Internet becoming the main tool for people to obtain information, court systems in the United States began putting all court records—which have always been available to the general public—online. Prior to the Internet’s use by almost everyone in the world, people would have to go to their local courts to try and see what records were available on potential employees, neighbors, or even themselves. Now, people can simply go to the Maryland Judiciary Case Search website, type in a person’s name, and see what pops up.
Criminal and Civil Records Are Available to the Public
Unfortunately, people are often accused of crimes or civil violations that they did not commit, and attorneys are asked how their court records can be shielded from public inspection. They have a point – why should a record of a harmful accusation be viewed by the general public even if the record, in small print, tells the world that the accusation was false?
You Can Request Court Record Shielding in Maryland
In Maryland, people are afforded the opportunity under Maryland Rule 16-1009(a) to request the Court that their court record is both removed from the online case search and sealed from public inspection if someone wants to review the actual file at the courthouse. While Maryland courts follow the general rule that court records should generally be open for inspection, they will seal certain court records for cause. Although the burden is placed on the person requesting a sealing of the record to establish certain criteria, that person can often overcome this burden with an astute attorney who knows the rules and procedures of Maryland law.
If you are faced with a situation where you want your case record shielded from the general public, please contact our attorneys.
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