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The Difference Between Sealing and Expunging Criminal Records

In Maine, the courts cannot authorize the expungement of adult criminal records. Expungement is usually mostly granted to persons ages 18 to 21 convicted of a Class E crime, typically the least severe misdemeanor offense. The individual is then eligible to petition for a pardon. According to Maine Statutes Title 17-A § 1252 and 1301, Class E crimes include:

  • operating on a suspended license
  • Theft where the cost of the items stolen is under $1,000
  • Prostitution
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Criminal trespass
  • Public intoxication

The court penalizes offenders convicted of Class E crimes with up to six months in jail and fines of up to $1,000. Maine Statute §701 differentiates between “public criminal history record information” and “confidential criminal history information.” All information held within a criminal record will fall into one of the categories, and each information category can only be accessed by specific agencies and entities. If the court grants a pardon, the records are essentially erased, meaning no entity or agency can access them.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the party involved, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How to Seal a Criminal Record in Maine

In Maine, removing criminal records is the same as sealing criminal records. Maine does not expunge records, but with a filled out Petition for Executive Clemency form, individuals can request that the court seals parts of a record. It is necessary to outline the reasons and explanation for the request and all relevant personal information in the form. If the request is approved, the court will remove all information within the record that is considered non-conviction data. The removal makes the personal information within the record unavailable upon public records requests.

What Crimes Can Be Expunged in Maine?

Typically, laws in Maine do not allow for the court to expunge records. The only crimes that individuals can have expunged are those that fit under a Class E misdemeanor category. For an individual to have the court expunge a Class E misdemeanor, the individual must also be 18 to 21 years old. According to Sec. 1. 15 MRSA c. 313 of the Maine Legislature, individuals convicted of a Class E, Class D, or Class C crime can petition the court that made the conviction to get it expunged. Parties can make this petition no less than five years after the convictions. If the defendant has not collected any further convictions and the crime qualifies, the court will order the conviction records to be expunged.

How to Expunge Criminal Records in Maine

To expunge criminal records, defendants must make sure to meet all eligibility requirements. The primary qualification is that the individual has already received a pardon. Individuals must wait five years after conviction to request a pardon, and the court system seals the records automatically. Persons convicted of operating a vehicle under the influence of intoxicants, also called a DUI, do not qualify for a pardon. Individuals must complete the Petition for Executive Clemency form, which asks for the charge’s details and justification for the petition. If the court denies the petition, the offender must wait one year to apply again. The Department of Corrections can respond to questions and pleas at:

Division of Adult Community Services

111 State House Station

Augusta, Maine 04333

Phone: (207) 287–4340

Do Sealed Records Show up In Maine Background Checks?

No, sealed records do not show up in background checks in Maine. After receiving a pardon, the criminal records are virtually erased and inaccessible. However, confidential criminal history information that has not been sealed by a pardon can be accessed in background checks. According to Maine Statutes § 703, this information includes:

  • All summons and arrest information
  • Records that detail the prosecution process
  • Records that show that the court postponed or dismissed proceedings due to the mental state of the defendant
  • Dismissed charges
  • Acquittals, not including insanity pleas.

Who Can See Sealed Criminal Records in Maine?

Typically in Maine, no person or entity besides criminal justice agencies or those under contract at a criminal justice agency can view sealed records per § 2259. Members of the public can also access these records with a court order or decision from a judge, but it is uncommon.

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