Maine Public Records

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The following is for informational purposes only

What are Maine Public Records, and How are They Created?

Maine Public Records

Unlike most states, Maine has no central government office who handles Freedom of Information Act records requests. Each individual government office, agency, and entity handles their own requests, and each has a different process and fees.

The state of Maine defines public records in this way: "The term public records means any written, printed or graphic matter or any mechanical or electronic data compilation from which information can be obtained, directly or after translation into a form susceptible of visual or aural comprehension, that is in the possession or custody of an agency or public official of this State or any of its political subdivisions, or is in the possession or custody of an association, the membership of which is composed exclusively of one or more of any of these entities, and has been received or prepared for use in connection with the transaction of public or governmental business or contains information relating to the transaction of public or governmental business."

"The Maine Freedom of Access Act ("FOAA") grants the people of this state a broad right of access to public records while protecting legitimate governmental interests and the privacy rights of individual citizens. The act also ensures the accountability of the government to the citizens of the state by requiring public access to the meetings of public bodies."

Maine has no specific government agency that oversees or governs the requests and use of public records. Each branch of the government manages public records themselves in their own way.

The Department of the Secretary of State, Maine State Archives is the government entity in charge of all historical public records. Their records date back to the 1800s, and they keep collections with vital records, military data, naturalization, and court records, African American history information, civil war documents, maps, photographs, and election information as well. They allow access online or in person.

 

How to Access Maine Public Records?

How to Access Maine Public Records

According to Maine.gov, there is no central repository of public records that you can contact to request copies. However, they also do not have any special form you have to use. Their recommendations to get records are:

  • Visit Maine.gov.
  • Download the list of contacts with all the government agencies on it.
  • Your Freedom of Access Act records request does not need to be in writing. However, be as specific as possible when asking for copies of documents. Timelines are helpful for locating the right paperwork.
  • You may be able to pick up paperwork in person or have it mailed to you.

Maine's Freedom of Information Act only applies to the state government, not federal agencies.

 

Different Types of Public Records in Maine

Maine Criminal Records

Maine's State Bureau of Identification Department of Public Safety is the government agency in charge or criminal records and requests. They are the central repository for Criminal History Record Information (CHRI). They provide criminal history requests to the general public 24 hours per day but with some restrictions. Only criminal convictions will be available, and the cost per records is $31. If you need it notarized, the charge is $41, and you can obtain them online or through the mail.

Some common types of criminal records in Maine include (but are not limited to):

  • Felony and Misdemeanor Records - some common misdemeanors in Maine are possession of marijuana plants, prostitution, pimping, and pandering. Some popular felonies committed in Maine are sexual battery, murder, sexual assault of a child below the age of 14, aggravated assault, and theft.
  • Maine Inmate Search - both jails and prisons keep inmate records, and those too are public records. The Maine Department of Corrections has an online search tool you can use to locate criminals and their records.
  • Police Records - local police can provide copies of incident reports, police reports, sometimes mugshots, and even crime scene photos upon request.

Maine Court Records

Different Types of Public Records in Maine

Court records in Maine are created, stored and supplied by the State of Maine Judicial Branch. Their website is very user friendly and offers patrons of the court forms to file motions, a list of court fees, and a search area where you can download a specific form to request copies of court documents. The form must be mailed along with the fees to Judicial Branch Service Center, PO Box 266, Lewiston, ME 04243. You can also call or email with any questions.

Some types of court records in Maine are:

  • Civil Court Records - domestic relations cases such as divorces, marriages, paternity lawsuits, custody and child support cases, estates, conservatorships, wills, civil lawsuits, and small claims lawsuits.
  • Criminal Court Records - criminal filings for misdemeanors, felonies, and other citations. These may include things like trial paperwork, sentencing, prison transfers, and evidence related to the court case.
  • Financial Court Records - bankruptcies, liens, tax issues, company stock filings, and corporate financial reports.
  • Other Court Records - such as bench warrants, arrest warrants, judgments, traffic tickets and other traffic violations, and name changes.

The Maine court system is split into three levels, first the Supreme Judicial Court, the District Court, and Superior Court, and then the Probate Court.

Maine Arrest Records

Maine arrest records may be obtained through the courts, using their court records request form. You can also contact the state police to get arrest records. The Maine Department of Corrections is also a good place to search for convicts and see their arrest records. You may also get a complete criminal history report (of only convicted offenders) from Maine's State Bureau of Identification Department of Public Safety who handles criminal records requests.

Some different types of arrests records in Maine are:

  • Drug charges.
  • Murder.
  • Pandering.
  • Pimping.
  • Theft.
  • Prostitution.
  • DUIs.
  • Sexual abuse.
  • Booking details like fingerprints and mugshots.
  • Arrest warrants granted by a judge.
  • Bench warrants for not appearing in court.
  • Crime scene photos.
  • Witness statements.
  • Property crimes and accompanying paperwork.
  • Vehicle records if one was used during the crime.

Maine Vital Records

Maine's Division of Public Health Systems is the agency in charge of vital records for the state. Maine is a closed record state, so only an individual or someone with their consent may order vital records for them. The MDPHS offers copies of vital records (birth, death, marriage, and divorce) by mail, in person, or online through the VitalChek system. This office also helps with data, research, and health statistics.

 

Other Public Records in Maine

Other Public Records in Maine

Along with criminal, court, arrest, and vital records, other types of public records you can find in the state of Maine include, but are not limited to:

  • Government budgets and annual reports.
  • Driving records (without personally identifiable information).
  • Home addresses.
  • Maps, books, and tapes.
  • State health and wellness statistics.
  • Air and water quality (pollution reports).
  • Property records, real estate deals, and land deeds.
  • Home phone numbers.
  • Police and accident reports.
  • Liens & tax issues.
  • Company incorporation records.
  • Demographics.
  • Library Research.
  • Personnel records for state agencies.
  • Permits, licenses, and certifications.
  • Government employee salaries.
 

What Information is Not Public Record in Maine?

According to Maine's Freedom of Information Act, not all public records are available. Some of the things listed as not public record are:

  • "Records that have been designated confidential by statute.
  • Records that would be within the scope of a privilege against discovery or use as evidence recognized by the courts of this State in civil or criminal trials if the records or inspection thereof were sought in the course of a court proceeding.
  • An individual's medical information of any kind, including information pertaining to diagnosis or treatment of mental or emotional disorders.
  • Credit or financial information.
  • Information pertaining to the personal history, general character, or conduct of the constituent or any member of the constituent's immediate family.
  • Complaints, charges of misconduct, replies to complaints or charges of misconduct or memoranda or other materials pertaining to disciplinary action.
  • An individual's social security number.
  • Medical records and reports of municipal ambulance and rescue units and other emergency medical service units, except that such records and reports must be available upon request to law enforcement officers investigating criminal conduct.
  • Personally identifying information concerning minors that is obtained or maintained by a municipality in providing recreational or non-mandatory educational programs or services, if the municipality has enacted an ordinance that specifies the circumstances in which the information will be withheld from disclosure.
  • Records describing security plans, security procedures or risk assessments prepared specifically for the purpose of preventing or preparing for acts of terrorism, but only to the extent that release of information contained in the record could reasonably be expected to jeopardize the physical safety of government personnel or the public. Personal contact information concerning public employees, except when that information is public pursuant to other law."