Maine does not allow the expungement
of adult criminal records. Instead, the state differentiates between “public
criminal history record information” and “confidential criminal history
information.” Your adult conviction or other criminal history record will fall
into one of these categories, each of which is viewable by specific individuals
or agencies, for specific purposes.
(16 Maine Revised Statutes Annotated
§ § 701 et seq.)
Confidential Criminal History Information?
Confidential information includes not
just convictions, but arrests, bail records, plea bargains, indictments,
sentencing, appeals, and so on. The following types of records are considered
- 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 indefinitely
postponed or dismissed due to the defendant’s mental state
- criminal charges that are for an indefinite filing period or for
more than one year, or that have been dismissed by a judge with prejudice, or
that have been dismissed following a mistrial or lack of jurisdiction in the
- acquittals, but this does not include insanity pleas, and
- cases in which the defendant has been granted a full and free
pardon or amnesty.
Who Can Access Confidential
Information, and For What Purpose?
A Maine criminal justice agency can
disseminate 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
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.
To check and/or correct your criminal
record, contact the State Bureau of Identification.
Obtaining a Pardon
If you were convicted of a crime in
Maine, the only way to clear your record is to receive a pardon. To qualify,
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.
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