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.
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:
Maine's Freedom of Information Act only applies to the state government, not federal agencies.
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):
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:
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 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:
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.
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:
According to Maine's Freedom of Information Act, not all public records are available. Some of the things listed as not public record are: