When an individual possesses a criminal record, he or she is presented with insurmountable obstacles when seeking employment. As a way to combat low employment opportunities and decrease the rate of second offenses, The Second Chance Act was introduced and signed by Governor Hogan in 2015. The Act provides a legal foundation that allows nonviolent offenders greater access to employment opportunities.
The Maryland Second Chance Act Defined
The Maryland Second Chance Act involves the shielding of criminal records for specified offenses under circumstances. “Shield” means to render a court and police record relating to a conviction of the specified crimes inaccessible by members of the public. The twelve specified crimes include:
- Disorderly Conduct
- Disturbing the Peace
- Failure to Obey a Reasonable and Lawful Order
- Malicious Destruction of Property in the Lesser Degree
- Trespassing on Posted Property
- Possessing or Administering a Controlled Dangerous Substance
- Possessing or Administering a Noncontrolled Dangerous Substance
- Use of or Possession with Intent to Use Drug Paraphernalia
- Driving without a License
- Driving While Privilege is Canceled, Suspended, Refused, or Revoked
- Driving While Uninsured
- A Prostitution Offense
Shielding vs. Expungement
While expungement removes court and police records from public inspection, shielding maintains some or all information in a case private from public inspection.
Filing a Petition
An individual can file his or her petition for shielding of eligible criminal records in the Circuit or District Court in which the case was concluded. Each individual is only eligible for one shielding over the defendant’s lifetime and must choose to petition to shield criminal convictions in either the Circuit or District Court.
An employer can consider a case that has been shielded. However, the employer may not require a person who applies for employment to disclose shielded information about criminal charges in an application or an interview. Employers can not legally expel or refuse to admit a person because he or she refused to disclose information about criminal charges that have been shielded.
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