Criminal records in Maine are accessible to the general public both through online resources and written or in-person requests. However, the state has restrictions on how and what information is released both online and in hard copies.
In Maine, the state only releases information relating to crimes as an adult where there is a conviction, so those seeking out criminal records will not get all information about every arrest or encounter with police. Regarding juveniles, the state only releases information about felonies where the juvenile was adjudicated.
Maine’s State Bureau of Identification maintains the central repository on criminal records. The repository was set up to collect, file, and preserve criminal records based on arrests reported by local law enforcement. It provides criminal record information to both those in criminal justice and in public entities.
Criminal record checks cost $31 if paid by a credit or debit card online or by check. Those requiring a notarized background check will have a fee of $41.
What is a criminal record?
A criminal record is an official document detailing a person’s criminal convictions, pending criminal cases, prior arrests, and other interactions with law enforcement agencies. Additional names for a criminal record include criminal history record, rap sheet, and a police record.
As with marriage records and court records, criminal records are generally public records in the United States and can be accessed through a criminal background check. However, public access to specific criminal record information varies from state to state.
In the State of Maine, criminal records are available online or by mail.
What is included in a Maine criminal record?
As criminal records are kept by law enforcement agencies at all levels of government in the United States, a Maine criminal record may vary in format and content depending on the law enforcement database from which it is accessed.
Generally, a Maine criminal record will include the following information:
- A person’s full name and possible aliases
- Personal information such as age, date of birth, sex, ethnicity, height, weight, and other physical characteristics
- Fingerprints and mugshot
- Misdemeanor criminal offenses and convictions
- Felony criminal offenses and convictions
- Traffic records
- Past and outstanding arrest warrants
- Prior arrests
- Pending and dismissed charges
Why would someone access a criminal record?
There are several reasons for someone wanting criminal background information.
- One of the most common reasons is to obtain a trade license, such as a caregiver or nanny. Even other trades, such as those in the financial field and general contractors, require a background check to join commercial trade groups or receive licensing.
- Other common reasons are to obtain a visa or proceed with an adoption.
- In some cases, such as custody or divorce cases, attorneys may seek out criminal records.
- Others in law enforcement may also want them to continue with an investigation into a later case. Courts and prosecutors use them to determine an appropriate sentence recommendation in a later crime.
- Individuals may also want to see their own criminal background to ensure its accuracy, for business opportunities, or to apply for a job.
What’s the difference between an infraction, misdemeanor, and felony?
When you access a criminal record, the person listed on the record may have an offense listed. Criminal offenses are usually broken into three categories: Infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies.
An infraction is a minor violation, a misdemeanor is more serious, and a felony is the most serious type of crime.
To better understand the information listed on a criminal record, here’s a quick overview of each offense and its severity:
- Infraction: A small traffic violation or littering are considered infractions. An infraction is a minor violation of the law. Usually, punishments are a warning or a fine. Typically, no jail time is associated with an infraction.
- Misdemeanor: If someone were to get a DUI or a drug violation, it’s considered a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is more serious than an infraction but less severe than a felony. Jail time of less than a year or probation are usually associated with these types of crimes. Likely, the offender will do time in a local or county jail.
- Felony: Murder, rape, and arson are considered felony charges. A felony is the most serious type of crime. Offenders are typically sentenced to jail for more than a year and are likely held in a state or federal facility.
What is the difference between a Maine arrest record and a Maine criminal record?
An arrest record is an official document including the details of a specific arrest. A criminal record is a more comprehensive document that includes a person’s entire criminal background known to law enforcement agencies.
Both types of documents are usually public records in the United States, although information about specific arrests may be sealed and rendered inaccessible to the public for a variety of reasons.
Whether an arrest record or a criminal record is accessed, the information listed is for state crimes only. If a person is involved in a federal crime, this information is not listed on a state record.
How do I search for a Maine criminal record?
The first place to go is to the Maine online search system. Here, anyone can order a name search background check with an online, non-refundable purchase. Those searching will need some information about the person they want a background check on. This includes the person’s full, legal name and date of birth. Those searching can also have their request notarized through the system for an additional $10 fee, making the cost $41.
The state has a disclaimer on the system that there could be a mistake made in name-based searches if there are those with similar names and the same birthdate. A more accurate and verifiable criminal background check can be done using fingerprints. That can be done by submitting fingerprints directly to the State Bureau of Identification. In that case, the requested criminal history or juvenile crime information will be sent back through the mail.
How do I obtain a physical copy of a Maine criminal record?
Those seeking a physical copy of a criminal or juvenile record in Maine can order a notarized copy of a name-based search from its online search system or they can receive a mailed copy from the State Bureau of Identification once they submit fingerprints for a certified fingerprint background check.
How do I search for Maine criminal case court records?
The place to start a search for court records in Maine is with Maine eCourts. This is a new eFiling, digital court records, and electronic case management system set up by the state’s judicial branch. It is available 24/7 and gives the public instant access to e-filed court documents. You pay for the service online.
Some cities have limited types of cases available online. Bangor, Maine has family matters, child protection, small claims, evictions, foreclosures, and other civil matters available to view online, but nothing much beyond those.
Those wanting to search for electronic court records should start with the Odyssey Portal.
Not every court record will be filed online. Some older cases may not be available online. In those cases, people wishing to get copies of court records must contact the county clerk in the local courts handling the case to find out how to get copies of records and the cost. The cost can vary depending on the size of the record and the time it takes to research and copy it. Those seeking court records are likely required to put their request in writing.
Does Maine allow criminal records to be sealed or expunged?
No, the State of Maine has no authority to either seal or expunge criminal convictions of adults. It once allowed class E crimes sealed for those where the convicted person was between 18 and 21 years old but that was repealed Oct. 1, 2019.
How can I have false information on a Maine criminal record corrected?
While there isn’t a specific procedure outlined for challenging a false criminal report in Maine, every citizen has the right to have false information corrected on a state criminal report.
- The first step to get a criminal report and all information related to the false incident.
- Then, contact the State Bureau of Identification on how and where to submit information to clear the report. In some states, there is a division that handles those decisions. Other states require people to get a court order to correct the record.
How long are Maine criminal records kept on file?
There is no information on exactly how long Maine keeps criminal records on file.
In many states, criminal records are kept on file until a person dies. Some states allow lesser crimes to come off a person’s records after a specific time from when their sentence was completed and some allow the record to be cleared once a person reaches a certain older age. Driving under the influence typically remains on people’s records forever, as most major crimes. Questions about whether criminal records are eventually destroyed should be directed to the State Bureau of Identification.