News Release

National Criminal Defense Bar Partners with Community Groups to Offer Marylanders Free Advice on How to Clear Criminal Records

Washington, DC (March 10, 2023) – The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) is partnering with Maryland organizations to offer free advice and resources on how to expunge, clear, or seal eligible criminal records.

NACDL, the American Job Center, Western Maryland Consortium, Maryland Legal Aid, Area Health Education Center West (AHEC West), United Food & Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), Allegany County Human Resources Development Commission (HRDC), and Maryland Department of Human Services (DHS) will host an Allegany County Expungement Clinicon Friday, March 31 from 11:00am–1:00pm ET. The clinic will take place at the Possibility Shop, located at 138 Baltimore St. in Cumberland, Maryland.

What is expungement?

Expungement is the legal process of removing a criminal record, including arrests and convictions, from the public record. However, expungements are often not widely available and are difficult to obtain due to legal, procedural, and financial barriers.

Expungement laws and processes vary by state and county, which makes clearing criminal records a complex task, generally requiring the assistance of an attorney to help determine eligibility for relief and to navigate the process to seek relief.

To help mitigate the process, NACDL partners with organizations across the nation to host expungement clinics.

What are the benefits?

The era of mass incarceration and the vast expansion of the nation's criminal legal system over the past 50 years has produced a corresponding increase in the number of people with a criminal record. At the same time, the collateral consequences of conviction have become more severe, more public, and more permanent. 

At a time when nearly one in three U.S. adults – or more than 77 million Americans – have a criminal record, it is crucial to provide the type of post-conviction relief granted through expungement. These individuals have paid their debts to society but are still burdened with the collateral consequences of their convictions. With a criminal record, people are left in a permanent cycle of punishment while trying to navigate a system that constantly denies them access to fundamental rights, such as employment, housing, voting, education, and more. Expungement is essential to remove these barriers so that people who qualify can be offered a meaningful second chance. 

Who can attend?

Individuals with criminal records in Maryland are invited to attend the clinic. No registration is required, and the expungement resources and services will be offered for free for people whose criminal records qualify for expungement. People seeking a free evaluation and support in clearing their qualifying criminal records are encouraged to bring their Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS) records, if possible. Refreshments and additional resources will be provided.

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In 2023, NACDL and advocates across the country are commemorating 50 years of America’s unjust, discriminatory, and ineffective policy of mass incarceration. You can learn more at www.NACDL.org/50YearsMassIncarceration.

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Contacts

Kate Holden, NACDL Public Affairs and Communications Associate, (202) 465-7624 or kholden@nacdl.org

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.