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Can Criminal Records Over 7 Years Be Ignored in Maryland?

Question from James, Can Criminal Records Over 7 Years Be Ignored in Maryland?

Answer from AI:

When it comes to employment, housing, and other opportunities, the question of whether criminal records over 7 years old can be disregarded is significant. In Maryland, as in many states, the answer depends on the context in which the question is asked, including the nature of the record, the laws governing background checks, and the specific use of the criminal history information.

Understanding Maryland’s Approach to Criminal Records

Maryland law has specific provisions regarding the use and reporting of criminal records, especially in the context of employment and background checks. It’s important to distinguish between the public availability of criminal records, which can often be accessed indefinitely, and the rules governing what employers or others can consider when making decisions based on those records.

Employment Background Checks

For employment purposes, Maryland follows the guidelines set forth by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a federal law that governs how background check information can be used by employers. The FCRA does not explicitly limit the reporting of criminal records based on their age. However, it does require accuracy and fairness in the reporting and use of this information.

In addition to federal laws, Maryland has its own regulations that may impact how criminal records are considered:

  • “Ban the Box” legislation: Maryland has enacted laws that restrict when an employer can inquire about an applicant’s criminal history during the hiring process. This means that for certain positions, an employer cannot ask about criminal history until later stages of the hiring process, although this does not directly limit the consideration of older records.
  • Expungement laws: Maryland allows for the expungement of certain criminal records, which can remove them from public view and legally permits individuals to deny the occurrence of the expunged incident in most situations. The eligibility for expungement depends on various factors, including the type of crime, the outcome of the case, and the passage of time.

Housing and Other Considerations

When it comes to housing and other non-employment-related checks, the use of criminal records in Maryland is also subject to specific regulations. Landlords and housing authorities may have policies regarding the consideration of criminal history, but these are often subject to fair housing laws that aim to prevent discrimination.

Key Points to Remember

  1. Context Matters: The relevance of a criminal record over 7 years old depends on the context in which it is being considered. Employment, housing, licensing, and other areas may have different rules and guidelines.
  2. Legal Guidance Is Crucial: Because the laws and regulations governing the use of criminal records are complex and can change, consulting with a legal professional is recommended for specific advice and guidance.
  3. Expungement: Individuals with older criminal records in Maryland should investigate whether they are eligible for expungement, which can legally clear the record from public view.

For more detailed information on expungement and criminal record relief in Maryland, you can visit the Maryland Expungement website, which provides resources and tools for understanding and navigating the process.


In summary, while there is no blanket rule in Maryland that criminal records over 7 years old can be disregarded, various laws and regulations may limit the use and consideration of such records in specific contexts. Individuals concerned about the impact of their criminal records should seek legal advice and explore options for expungement or other forms of relief. Remember, the interpretation and application of these laws can vary, so professional legal consultation is strongly recommended for personal situations.

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