What is Shielding?
In Maryland, the sealing process is called "shielding." Shielding keeps the record from public view, so it is not available on Maryland's Case Search online record system. Shielding does not eliminate the record.
With shielding, the general public will not see the record. This includes employers, landlords, and banks. Judges, law enforcement, and some state agencies continue to have access to shielded records for legal purposes.
Who is Eligible for Shielding?
You must meet all of the following five requirements to be eligible for shielding:
- You were convicted of one of the following 12 offenses;
- Disorderly Conduct
- Disturbing The Peace
- Failure To Obey A Reasonable And Lawful Order
- Malicious Destruction Of Property In The Lesser Degree
- Trespass On Posted Property
- Possession Or Administration Of A Controlled Dangerous Substance
- Possession Of A Non-Controlled Dangerous Substance
- Use Or Possession With Intent To Use Drug Paraphernalia
- Driving Without A License
- Driving While Privilege Is Canceled, Suspended, Refused, Or Revoked
- Driving While Uninsured
- You have waited three years after the completion of your sentence (including parole, probation, or mandatory supervision);
- The crimes you want to shield are not domestically related;
- You are not a defendant in any pending criminal matter; and
- You have not been convicted of any crimes within the last three years.
Finally, apply Maryland's "unit rule." A "unit" is two or more convictions arising from the same incident or facts. If you have a group of related convictions, each conviction in the group must be eligible for shielding. If one isn't eligible, then none of them are.
What Effect Does Shielding Have?
Shielding removes a record from public view. A shielded criminal record will not be accessible through Maryland's online record system called, "Case Search." A shielded record is still available to courts, law enforcement, and certain state agencies.
When Can I Apply for Shielding?
To apply for shielding, you must wait three years after you completed your sentence. The waiting period begins from whatever date is the most recent such as date of conviction, completion of sentence, or completion of probation, parole, or mandatory supervision.
How Do I Apply for Shielding?
Here are the five steps to apply for shielding:
- Choose one court in one county to ask for shielding. Pick either a circuit court or a district court, depending on where your eligible cases ended.
- Get the Petition For Shielding Under Maryland Second Chance Act form either from the court or on the Maryland Courts website here: Petition for Shielding.
- Complete the form. Include all your eligible convictions from one court and only one county on one petition. This is important because Maryland courts grant only one shielding petition in your lifetime.
- Deliver your petition to the court.
- Pay the fee. The $30 fee is nonrefundable no matter the outcome. The fee is for one petition, no matter how many offenses are included.
More Information About Shielding
Maryland's Judiciary website offers forms and information here: Maryland Courts. For information about shielding and to read about Maryland's "Self-Help Centers" where you can go for legal advice if you don't have a lawyer, visit: Maryland Courts Self-Help Centers and Maryland Judiciary Self-Help Materials.