No, unlike most states, Maine does not have an expungement law. In other words, its criminal records cannot be destroyed or erased. However, there are ways to seal or minimize the impact of your criminal record in Maine. You do not have to disclose sealed criminal records to employers and the public cannot see them without permission.
Sealing of Juvenile Criminal Records
In Maine, you may seal most juvenile criminal records. You may seal your juvenile record if:
- Three years have passed since the case’s disposition,
- You do not have subsequent convictions or adjudications, and
- You do not have pending criminal charges.
In order to seal your juvenile record, you must file a written motion with the court. The court will review your request and either approve or deny it. (A request may be denied if the public interest outweighs your right to privacy.)
Sealing of Youthful Offender Records
In 2015, Maine passed a new law allowing youthful offenders to seal some convictions. If you were between the ages of 18 and 21 when you were convicted of a Class E crime, this record may be sealed. Class E crimes include minor offenses like disorderly conduct and theft. You cannot have any other convictions or pending criminal charges. If you need help sealing youthful offender records, contact a criminal defense lawyer.
Challenging an Inaccurate or Incomplete Criminal Record
If a criminal record is inaccurate or incomplete, you may ask the State Bureau of Identification for a correction. You may request a correction by telephone, in writing, or in person. Your request must clearly explain:
- What record you are challenging,
- Your desired correction, and
- Why you believe a correction is justified.
The State Bureau of Identification will perform an investigation and either approve or deny your request. If it is denied, you may file an appeal with the Superior Court.
In Maine, most non-conviction records are confidential after one year. Non-conviction records include:
- Arrest records that are at least a year old (with no active or pending charges),
- Charges that were not filed by the prosecutor or did not result in a grand jury indictment,
- Offenses that were dismissed due to mental competence or insanity,
- Charges that were dismissed or resulted in an acquittal, and
- Deferred adjudications.
Confidential records are still available to law enforcement and other agencies.
Obtaining Executive Clemency or a Pardon
Executive clemency (also called a pardon) is available under some circumstances. A full pardon forgives a conviction and seals the record for most purposes. The Governor of Maine is responsible for granting pardons.
Not everyone is eligible for a pardon. You must wait five years after completing your entire sentence (including probation) before you apply. Some crimes, including drunk driving, are not pardonable. And, you cannot receive a pardon if your sole purpose is to regain firearm rights or remove yourself from the Sex Offender Registry.
If you are eligible for a pardon, you must file a Petition for Executive Clemency. Your petition will be reviewed—and you may be scheduled for a hearing. If a hearing is scheduled, there is a formal process that must be followed, including:
- A detailed investigation of your claim,
- Published notice of your hearing, and
- A formal hearing including testimony.
After your hearing, a recommendation will be sent to the Governor. The Governor will either approve or deny your pardon. This process is time-intensive and it may be in your best interest to hire a skilled clemency lawyer.
Implications of an Executive Pardon
If the Governor grants your petition, you may lawfully state that the pardoned criminal record does not exist. When most employers search your Maine criminal record, the conviction will not be present.
Consulting a Lawyer
In order to seal a criminal record or pardon a conviction, you must submit specific paperwork and may have to attend a hearing. A criminal lawyer or expungement lawyer can help guide you through the process and insure that you have the correct information in your request. Additionally, a lawyer can speak on your behalf during any necessary hearings and give you the best chance of sealing your record.