Final grade: D+

Exclusion Grade


Relevance Grade


Due Process Grade



  • Bans agencies from considering convictions older than seven years.

  • In many cases, boards must evaluate multiple factors, including any evidence of rehabilitation, for an ex-offender’s license application.

Areas of Improvement

  • Eliminate loopholes for drug crimes, violent crimes, and “unreasonable risk.”

  • Strengthen safeguards for due process by requiring a petition process and placing the burden of proof on the state.

Multiple loopholes in state law plunge Maryland’s final grade down to a D+. The state at first appears to have a strong relevancy test, requiring a “direct relationship” between conviction and license. Unfortunately, this test is immediately swallowed by a loophole that lets boards deny licenses if they determine an applicant would pose an “unreasonable risk,” which is a much weaker standard.

The standard drops even further for drug convictions. In order to deny a license, a board need only show that there is a “relationship between the drug crime and the license.” Worse, two of the state’s better protections—its seven-year time limit on old convictions and its requirement to consider multiple factors, including rehabilitation—are completely absent for Marylanders convicted of drug crimes.

Finally, any violent crime that triggers a mandatory minimum as punishment is completely exempt from the state’s licensing protections for ex-offenders.

Notably, Maryland is one of the only states with license denial data for ex-offenders. Under a 2018 law, Maryland’s licensing agencies were required to report how many applications they received and denied from ex-offenders between fiscal 2014 to 2018.

During that period, the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, which oversees 21 boards, found “no record or indication…of anyone who was denied a license based solely on a criminal record.” However, out of the 613,034 license applications it received during that time, only 803 had a criminal record—barely 0.13%. By comparison, nearly 9,000 people were released from Maryland prisons in 2017 alone, while roughly 8% of the nation’s population has been convicted of a felony. This wide discrepancy strongly suggests that many with criminal records feel deterred and never apply for licenses.

Other credentials also saw no denials of ex-offenders. Out of 1,642 applications for the state’s residential child-care certification, 150 applications—more than 9%—were from people with a criminal record. No one was denied due to their criminal conviction. Likewise, the Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners counted four license applicants with a conviction or arrest record, none of whom was denied.

On the other hand, there were seven licensing boards at the Department of Health that received a total of 58 applications from ex-offenders. But the boards denied licenses in 12 cases—a denial rate of more than 20%.

Statute: Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 1-209, Md. Code Ann., State Gov’t §§ 10-1402 to 1405

Overarching ban on blanket bans Yes
Ban on considering arrest records No
Ban on considering post-conviction relief records No
Time limit 7 years, except for drug, sexual, or violent crimes
Ban on vague, discretionary character standards No
Relationship between the crime and the license sought “Direct relationship” between the offense and the license, with an exception for issuing licenses to those who pose an “unreasonable risk to property or to the safety or welfare of specific individuals or the general public.” For drug crimes, there must be a“relationship between the drug crime and the license”
Required factors for consideration
Rehabilitation Yes
Time elapsed since crime was committed Yes
Age when crime was committed Yes
Employment History No
Testimonials No
Due Process
Petition Process No
Burden of Proof Both unspecified
Right to appeal No
Written notice requirement No