Frequently Asked Questions: Criminal Defense & Traffic Law
What is expungement?
When can I file for expungement?
What is the process to have criminal records expunged?
I received a traffic ticket, what should I do?
What can an attorney do for me if I have a traffic ticket?
I have been charged with a crime (such as misdemeanor, felony, juvenile offense, or criminal traffic violation), what should I do?
Q: What is expungement?
A: Expungement is a process in which you have records pertaining to criminal charges and/or a criminal case against you sealed and made unavailable to the public. Expungement also removes police and court records from public inspection.
In Maryland, records may be expunged from Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) files, police files and court files. Each process removes very specific files and must be done through the proper agency. No single process can expunge records from all agencies.
Q: When can I file for expungement?
A: In Maryland, the waiting period before you can file for expungement varies, depending upon how your case is concluded. Generally you must wait three years from the conclusion of your case. In some instances, such as acquittal, nolle prosqui, or dismissal, you may be able to request expungement sooner if you also file a General Waiver and Release. In addition, you may need to wait longer than the three years if you are serving probation. There are some situations in which you may not expunge your records, such as when multiple charges have been brought against you and you were convicted of at least one, or you are convicted of a subsequent crime while a probation before judgment, nolle prosqui, stet or pardon was pending.
Q: What is the process to have criminal records expunged?
A: The process in Maryland to request an expungement of records requires the filing of a Petition, and General Waiver and Release if required, with the court, service of the forms on the State’s Attorney and each law enforcement agency, submission of the forms to the court in which the case was concluded, and payment of non-refundable filing fees. The process generally takes ninety days from the date filed, unless there is an objection or an appeal. In the event of an objection, your request for an expungement will be set in for a hearing. If there is no objection, then the court will pass the expungement order and you will receive confirmation that your records were expunged by each agency notified.
The process for expunging a criminal record in the District of Columbia is far easier when a person files based on time elapsed. One need not prove innocence here. As long as no conviction resulted from the original crime and as long as the individual hasn’t been arrested or convicted since, one can file for an expungement after waiting a certain amount of time after the case was completed. The waiting period is related to the offense with which the defendant was charged, but it varies from two to four years. Need help navigating this somewhat complex system? Contact us for assistance expunging a criminal record in the District of Columbia.
Q: I received a traffic ticket, what should I do?
A: There are two categories of traffic violations in Maryland: 1) minor violations, and 2) major violations. Minor violations are not subject to jail sentences, while major offenses allow for a jail sentence if you are convicted.
For minor violations in Maryland:
- You can pay the fine, which is an admission of guilt and will most likely trigger the issuance of points on your driver’s license.
- You can ask for a waiver hearing where you admit guilt, but want to provide the Judge with an explanation before sentencing
- You can ask for a trial, which means you do not admit guilt and will be able to offer evidence on your behalf.
If you do not act within 30 days, the MVA will begin the process of suspending your license. This is vastly different than how the old traffic ticket process worked. Before the law changed on January 1, 2011, if you did nothing when you received a traffic ticket, then you would automatically get a court date.
For serious driving violations in Maryland, you must appear in court, and you do not have the option of avoiding court by paying the fine. You will receive a summons in the mail notifying you of the date, time, and location of the trial. If you then fail to appear in court when summoned, the judge will issue a warrant for your arrest.
Q: What can an attorney do for me if I have a traffic ticket?
A: You may retain an attorney to represent you in court for minor or major traffic violations. In Maryland, you have the right to an attorney if you are charged with a traffic violation that carries a possible jail term, and you may apply for and receive the services of the Public Defender if you meet income requirements. The attorneys of Andalman & Flynn have represented persons charged with traffic violations of all kinds, and have the experience needed to help you resolve your ticket as quickly and fairly as possible. By having an experienced attorney represent you, you increase your chances of having your defenses effectively presented in court and, therefore, you have a greater likelihood of having the traffic citation or charge dismissed, or the fine lowered and the resulting points reduced. For the sake of your driving record and insurance rates, you should consider all traffic tickets to be serious matters. Please contact us for a consultation.
Q: I have been charged with a crime (such as misdemeanor, felony, juvenile offense, or criminal traffic violation), what should I do?
A: Each criminal matter is unique and requires immediate review and representation by an experienced criminal defense attorney to address your particular situation. With very serious potential consequences if convicted, it is essential to seek early legal representation to protect your rights from the earliest stages of your case, to provide you with a thorough defense, and to preserve your record if you are wrongly accused. Whether your charges are a misdemeanor, felony, juvenile offense, or criminal traffic violation, you should immediately seek the counsel of an attorney experienced in criminal defense to assess all the facts and circumstances of your case, and to advocate zealously on your behalf throughout the criminal trial process. If you would like to meet with an attorney, please contact us to schedule a consultation.