Maine Public Records
To request public records in Maine, you need to know how the process works. Every state differs in the way it handles its public records requests, but Maine is fairly straightforward.
Maine’s Freedom of Access Act governs public records and gives everyone access to public documents, with a few exceptions.
To assist your search for public records, we have created this state-specific guide that will help people understand state laws as well as provide directions on how to access criminal, inmate, court, and vital records.
Table of Contents
- 1 What does the Maine public records law say?
- 2 How can a person access public records in Maine?
- 3 Maine criminal records
- 4 Maine inmate records
- 5 Maine court records
- 6 Maine vital records
- 7 Frequently asked questions about Maine records
- 7.1 Can a request be submitted by non-residents of the state?
- 7.2 Is there a records custodian in Maine?
- 7.3 What exemptions exist?
- 7.4 How long does that state have to respond?
- 7.5 Is there an appeals process in place?
- 7.6 Can anyone access, review, and challenge their records?
- 7.7 What fees are associated with requesting public records?
What does the Maine public records law say?
Maine agencies are generally described as helpful and responsive when it comes to public records searches. Anyone can request public records in the state of Maine. While some states only allow state residents to request records, Maine does not.
Under the Maine Freedom of Access Act, government agencies have five days to respond to a request. If the request is denied or rejected, a notice must be sent within five business days from the date of submission.
If a request is denied, the public records act does not provide an administrative way to appeal the decision. Instead, appeals must be made within 30 days of the denial of the superior court.
There are some exemptions to records within the state of Maine; they are specific and mandatory exemptions that have been outlined in the law or mentioned in statutes. If any record is redacted or withheld, the state agency must provide a reason for it.
The biggest exemption in the Public Records Act is the judicial branch of government.
Maine.gov has more information on the public records act.
How can a person access public records in Maine?
Some records are readily available online, but other state records require an official records request. The request can be sent by mail, email, or by phone to the corresponding department.
Every department is different, so expect some variation to the rules if you’re accessing records from multiple places.
In general, a public records request should include:
- your name and contact information, including an email, phone number, and mailing address
- the name of the document you want access to with as much detail as possible
- a specific time period that you’d like to receive the materials by
- how to deliver the documents, whether by email or mail
Due to COVID, some public offices may have limited hours of operation and may require that anyone inside wear a mask. As a result, online requests are best, but if you want to go in person you should call ahead.
Maine criminal records
An individual’s criminal history record is available to the community and general public 24 hours a day/7 days a week, with some restrictions on how that information can be released. Individuals have the right to request public criminal history records maintained by the Maine State Police.
What’s on a criminal record?
A criminal record provides a detailed record of a person’s history with law enforcement. These records are pulled from various sources and include arrest records, convictions, and incarcerations within the state’s prisons.
More specifically, a criminal record or a background check will provide the following information:
- Personal information like a person’s name, birthday, nationality, etc.
- A mugshot, plus a full set of fingerprints
- A list of distinguishing features like tattoos, birthmarks, or other identifying marks
- Type of offense (misdemeanor or felony) and description of the crime
Where can a person find Maine criminal records?
- Resource: Maine State Bureau of Identification
Criminal background checks in Maine are executed by the Maine State Police, State Bureau of Identification. The system, called InforME, produces criminal records reports exclusively for the state of Maine.
Either a name-based or a fingerprint-based check can be ordered, with a name-based report possible by request for anyone, with or without a consent.
The Maine Criminal History Record and Juvenile Crime Information Request Service is an online service which provides electronic access to criminal history records and juvenile crime information maintained by the Maine State Police and the State Bureau of Identification.
Through these records, you have 24-hour access to all the conviction and adjudication information for adult and juvenile crimes committed within the State of Maine that are currently on record, including pending issues that are less than one year old.
Criminal history requests are only accessible up to 30 days. After 30 days, the records are no longer considered valid and a new request is necessary.
For general public or non-governmental entities, there is a fee of $31 ($21 for inforME subscribers within the state of Maine) in order to process requests for criminal history records or juvenile crime information records. This fee is required for any records searches and doesn’t depend on the results of the search in question. The fee remains the same for a name-based check or fingerprint-based check.
Maine inmate records
The state of Maine has about 5,000 inmates within its corrections system. Inmate records can provide information on current inmates that are housed within any correctional facility within the state.
What’s on an inmate record?
The information on inmate records varies from state to state; in Maine the records usually contain a combination of personal information and specific details about a person’s incarceration situation. Public access to inmate records can provide the following information when accessed:
- Personal information (first/last name, birthdate, gender)
- A mug shot
- Inmate location
- Inmate registration number
- Jail transfer information
- Custody status
Where can a person find Maine inmate records?
- Resource: Maine Department of Corrections
Information on inmates can be accessed via the Maine Department of Corrections, which has its own page to search for inmate records. Using the portal, you can find an inmate’s address, case number, and expected release date.
The Maine Adult Prisoner/Probationer Search Service is free for everyone to use and is the most convenient way to search for inmate records in the Maine Department of Corrections system. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is updated every day.
Note that minors are not included in this search service. Those making requests should also know that the information provided from this service is not a complete criminal history, which must be obtained through the online Public Criminal History Request service.
Maine court records
All court records in Maine are maintained by either state or local governments and can be accessed and disseminated to the public, providing full documentation of allegations, sworn affidavits, and proceedings taken in a court of law. Maine court records that can be searched online include only the opinions and orders from the state Supreme Court.
What’s on a court record?
In most cases, court records are quite extensive and come with several varying documents. Most people find the following documents the most helpful:
- Court minutes
- Case files
- Orders of the court
- Judgement documentation
- Jury records and files
- Witness documentation
Where can a person find Maine court records?
- Resource: The State of Maine Judicial Branch
The State of Maine Judicial Branch has a new system in place for criminal and civil search requests. A case number must be presented in order to obtain documents on a person.
The procedures listed below are applicable for Maine’s District courts, Superior Courts, and Violation Bureau records:
- All record search requests are to be submitted using the Request for Records Search form.
- Requests via mail are sent to the Judicial Branch Service Center
- Any individual that requests a record search on him/herself may query the court to learn where their record is held. Individuals requesting their own record are exempt from a research fee.
Maine vital records
Vital records are records of life events including birth certificates, marriage licenses/certificates, and death certificates. In some jurisdictions, vital records can also include records of civil unions or domestic partnerships.
What information is needed to request a vital record?
To obtain vital records in Maine, like a death record, for example, a person must provide certain information to aid in the search. The information includes:
- The location of the event
- The approximate date of the event
- The full name of the person, including maiden names
- A case file number for divorce records
- Date of birth for birth records
- The license number for a marriage record
Where can a person find Maine vital records?
- Resource: Division of Public Health Systems
There are a multitude of reasons why vital records are sometimes necessary and it is always advisable to have at least one personal copy in your possession.
Vital records in Maine, including birth, death, and marriage certificates can be found at the Division of Public Health Systems in the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention.
For birth or death records that pre-date 1955, you should speak with someone in the Maine State Archives.
Due to COVID-19, the state of Maine is asking that people request copies of vital records by mail with payment by check or money order. To order through the mail, enclose a copy of your photo ID and a self-addressed, stamped envelope with the request. Applications for records can be downloaded on the site.
Frequently asked questions about Maine records
To further assist Maine citizens in the pursuit of government records, here’s a list of commonly asked questions:
Can a request be submitted by non-residents of the state?
Yes. In Maine, there is no law dictating a residency requirement.
Is there a records custodian in Maine?
In Maine, there is no single custodian of records.
What exemptions exist?
There are more than 300 statutory exemptions to the Freedom of Access Act’s definition of what constitutes a public record. Many of these exceptions focus on personal information, medical information, and public safety information.
How long does that state have to respond?
Responses typically take up to 5 days.
Is there an appeals process in place?
The appeals process can be made to the Superior Court in the county where you live.
Can anyone access, review, and challenge their records?
In accordance with Maine laws, each person has the right to review and challenge their criminal history record information. If someone disagrees with any information contained on a record, it is possible to contact the State Bureau of Identification by person or mail to request either an amendment or correction of the criminal history record. The request should indicate the record in question, the nature of the correction sought, and the justification for the amendment.
What fees are associated with requesting public records?
Fees cover copies and no search exceeds $15 an hour.