House approves "shielding" law

Offenders' minor convictions could be hidden from public view

March 17, 2014|By Erin Cox, The Baltimore Sun

The House of Delegates on Monday passed a law that would allow some ex-offenders to "shield" their criminal records from online background checks.

In a 87-49 vote, the chamber approved the measure that would allow people convicted of various traffic, drug and other misdemeanors to petition the court to remove any reference to their convictions from the state's court website.

Under the bill those convictions – and records about them – would still exist, but they could not be discovered by doing a simple online search of the state's court database. Advocates of the law, including Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, said it will help people with minor criminal offenses in their background get jobs.

If passed by the Senate and signed by Gov. Martin O'Malley, the law allows people convicted of 13 different misdemeanors to petition a judge to "shield" their conviction. Such petitions could be made three years after a person satisfies the terms of his or her sentence.

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