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Maryland Public Records

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The following is for informational purposes only

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

Maryland Public Records

Maryland's Attorney General's Office provides guidance on the Maryland Public Information Act. They describe the state policy as: "The public's right to information about government activities lies at the heart of a democratic government. Maryland's Public Information Act (PIA) 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 Attorney General's Office provides a PIA manual and some FAQs to help patrons obtain the records they need.

Various state and local government agencies create public records. When someone is born or dies, public records are created to mark those events too. Local law enforcement also creates public records when they arrest someone, photograph and fingerprint them. The courts create records throughout the day filing cases, making motions, and mediating disputes. In many cases, individuals and legal professionals also help to create public records in Maryland.

"A public record is defined as the original or copy of any documentary material in any form created or received by an agency in connection with the transaction of public business. Included in this definition are written materials, books, photographs, photocopies, firms, microfilms, records, tapes, computerized records, maps, drawings, and other materials."

Maryland's Attorney General's Office is the government agency in charge of instructing the public on how to request records. However, records are created, stored, maintained, and issued by each individual state and local government agency or organization. General requests for public records may also be obtained through the Maryland Attorney General's Office by mail.

The Maryland State Archives is the agency in charge of collecting, preserving, and storing all historical public records for the state. Although they have paper documents you can review in person, they also have an extensive library online that you can search through. Some of the things you will find are census documents dating back to 1776, school records, government publications, vital records, historical documents, land and cemetery records, and much more. Maryland is steeped in history, and they encourage patrons to browse their collections.


How to Access Maryland Public Records?

How to Access Maryland Public Records

Maryland's Attorney General's Office is the agency in charge of public records for the state. They encourage you to contact state, county, or municipal entities for detailed information. They offer this method to obtain records:

  • Visit the Attorney General's website.
  • Review the list of record custodians.
  • Contact the one you need in person, by phone, or through the mail.
  • Submit your records request.
  • If for some reason you are denied, you may contact the Attorney General's Office for assistance.

You can also submit requests for general public records directly to the Attorney General's Office or call or email them for more information.


Different Types of Public Records in Maryland

Maryland Criminal Records

Maryland's criminal records are handled by state and local law enforcement agencies. The Maryland State Police have a department that handles public records requests, and they supply police reports as you need them. You can also check Maryland's court records to find conviction information and court documents related to criminal records. If the person was incarcerated, the Maryland Division of Corrections would have information related to criminal convictions and other details. You can use online services or visit these resources in person for records.

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

  • Felony and Misdemeanor Records - some common misdemeanors in Maryland are assault, stalking, harassment, misuse of mail, theft of less than $1,000, and carrying a dangerous concealed weapon. Some popular felonies in Maryland include murder, robbery, first-degree assault, sexual assault, property crimes, and heavy drug possession.
  • Maryland Inmate Locator - both jails and prisons keep inmate records, and those too are public records. The Maryland Division 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.

Maryland Court Records

Different Types of Public Records in Maryland

Court records in Maryland are created, stored, and disseminated by the Maryland Courts. They have an extensive website with lots of features to help court patrons. They allow the public free access to court records except for the following items:

  • "Adoption.
  • Guardianship terminating parental rights.
  • Juvenile delinquency.
  • Child in need of assistance cases (CINA).
  • Certain marriage license information.
  • Emergency mental health evaluations.
  • Income tax returns.
  • Financial statements filed in a case about spousal or child support.
  • Reports filed by a physician concerning the medical condition of an alleged disabled adult.
  • Reports filed by a guardian concerning the property of an alleged disabled adult."

Some types of court records in Maryland 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.

Although some court documents appear online, you can also visit the courthouse in person to request copies of court records in Maryland.

Maryland Arrest Records

Maryland arrest records are created by law enforcement and the courts. You can also request background checks through the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. Local police may also be able to provide you with some fresh arrest records, and you can always check the Maryland Division of Corrections to find convicted felons and their arrest records in Maryland.

Some different types of arrests records in Maryland are:

  • Drug charges.
  • Murder.
  • Stalking.
  • Misuse of mail/harassment.
  • 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.

Maryland Vital Records

Maryland's Department of Health is the agency in charge of all vital records for the state. They collect, store, and preserve all vital records. You can order copies of birth certificates, death certificates, and marriage and divorce certificates. They also handle adoption paperwork and health statistics. They offer parents a commemorative birth certificate option instead of a regular birth certificate for their children.


Other Public Records in Maryland

Other Public Records in Maryland

Along with criminal, court, arrest, and vital records, property records in Maryland are also public. Here are the others:

  • 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).
  • 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 Maryland?

According to Maryland's Public Information Act, a few things are not considered public records.

"For example, some public records are confidential under federal or state statutes, under court rules, or under various common law privileges such as attorney-client privilege and executive privilege. GP § 4-301. The PIA itself also protects certain records from disclosure (for example, adoption records, personnel records, certain personal information in Motor Vehicle.

Administration records). In addition, some information contained in public records must remain confidential (for example, an individual's medical information, confidential commercial information, and trade secrets). GP §§ 4-304 to 4-327 (Part II), §§ 4-328 to 4-342 (Part III). In some cases, these protections may be waived.

Other records may be withheld if the agency decides that disclosure of those records would be "contrary to the public interest." Examples of records subject to discretionary disclosure include investigatory records, information related to academic, licensing, and employment examinations, and documents of a pre-decisional and deliberative nature. GP §§ 4-343 to 4-357 (Part IV)."