Expunging or Sealing Adult Criminal Records in Maine

Maine law does not allow the expungement of adult criminal records. The state differentiates between “public criminal history record information” and “confidential criminal history information.” Your adult conviction or other criminal history records will fall into one of these categories, each of which is viewable by specific individuals or agencies, for specific purposes. (For a few years, Maine authorized expungement for class E crimes committed by youth between the ages of 18 and 21, but this authorization expired in 2019.)

What Constitutes Confidential Criminal History Information in Maine?

Confidential information includes not just convictions but also arrests, bail records, plea bargains, indictments, sentencing, appeals, and so on. The following types of records are considered confidential:

  • summons and arrest information (unless the person is a fugitive) that’s more than a year old and no active prosecution or charge is pending
  • records that show that law enforcement has not referred the matter to a prosecutor, or that prosecutors have elected not to proceed, or that the grand jury has not returned a formal charge
  • records that show that proceedings have been postponed for more than one year or dismissed due to the defendant’s mental state
  • criminal charges that have been filed if more than one year has passed, or that have been dismissed by a judge with prejudice, or that have been dismissed following a mistrial or lack of jurisdiction in the trial court
  • acquittals, but this does not include insanity pleas, and
  • cases in which the defendant has been granted a full and free pardon.

(Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 16, § 703 (2020).)

Who Can Access Confidential Information, and for What Purpose?

A Maine criminal justice agency (such as law enforcement, courts, and prosecutors) can disseminate (share) confidential criminal history record information to other criminal justice agencies and to:

  • any person who has the express right to such information, as specified by statute, court order, court rule, or court decision
  • anyone under contract to conduct background checks for the state for potential law enforcement officers
  • researchers under contract with a criminal justice agency
  • any person who asks a criminal justice agency whether a named person was summonsed, arrested, or detained; or for whom formal criminal charges were initiated on a certain date
  • the public, when a public person desires information other than summons and arrest information (unless the person is a fugitive) that’s more than a year old and no active prosecution or charge is pending, and the request is made in order to announce a disposition, and the request is made within thirty days of such disposition (or anytime, if the subject consents), and
  • a public entity, such as the United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS), for the purpose of issuing visas and granting citizenship.

(Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 16, § 705 (2020).)

What Qualifies as Public Criminal History Information in Maine?

Criminal history record information is basically everything not included in “Confidential History,” explained above. Broadly speaking, it includes all convictions, whether the person has served and completed the sentence, or not, and limited information on pending cases less than a year old.

To check or correct your criminal record, contact the State Bureau of Identification. More information on the challenge process can be found here.

Obtaining a Pardon in Maine

If you were convicted of a crime in Maine, the only way to "seal" your conviction record is to receive a pardon. But even with a pardon, your record won't be erased; rather it will be classified confidential in Maine. Anyone granted a pardon can apply to the State Bureau of Investigation ten years after discharge from the sentence to have the FBI's offense record deleted.

To qualify for a pardon, you must wait at least five years from the date that you completed your sentence. Certain offenses—including driving under the influence—cannot be pardoned under Maine law.

You can find information about pardons by visiting the website of the Maine Department of Corrections.

(Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 15, § 2167 (2020).)

Getting Legal Help

Because Maine offers so few options for sealing records, the process of cleaning up your criminal history can be tricky. To learn more, you should contact a qualified criminal law attorney. A good lawyer can assess your personal situation and guide you each step of the way.

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