For individuals who have committed certain nonviolent crimes and completed their terms of probation and have not committed any subsequent criminal offenses, or who have had their criminal charges dismissed, they generally are eligible to petition the court where they were convicted for an order of expungement or record sealing.
The expungement process effectively seals any record of your arrest, investigation, detention or conviction and denies the general public access to your court files so that any background check will not reveal any criminal violations or arrests. In Maine, however, there is no statute permitting the expungement of adult criminal records, though there are some circumstances where certain court records may not be accessible to the general public. For more information, contact a Maine expungement attorney.
What is Expungement or Sealing?
In many states, an expungement court order will seal or destroy your record of arrest and conviction for particular eligible criminal offenses and generally are granted for those individuals with only a single criminal conviction. Every state gives juvenile offenders an opportunity to seal from public access their juvenile record after the individual either becomes an adult or after passage of a certain time and no further juvenile proceedings are pending.
For public policy considerations, Maine does not allow adult criminal convictions to be sealed or expunged. Should your case involve "nonconviction data," though, you can lawfully state under oath in court or in any employment, credit, school or rental application that you have never been arrested or charged.
Are You Eligible?
Only certain circumstances qualify as nonconviction data that may not be publicly disseminated by any governmental or law enforcement agency except to certain designated entities:
- There is no active prosecution or charges pending one year after your arrest.
- Law enforcement has decided not to refer your case to a prosecutor.
- A prosecutor decided not to commence criminal proceedings.
- All criminal proceedings have been postponed indefinitely because of mental incompetency to stand trial.
- Your case was dismissed.
- You were acquitted of all charges except due to a mental disease or defect.
- You received a full pardon or amnesty.
If you are a juvenile seeking to have your record sealed, you must wait a minimum of three years since you were discharged from the disposition, have not committed any further juvenile crimes and have no adjudicatory proceedings pending.
There are other options available to adults who are seeking relief from the obstacles presented by having a public criminal record.
One option is to review and challenge the information in your criminal record if there is an error by contacting the State Bureau of Identification (SBI), which is part of the Department of Public Safety, and making an oral or written request that a record be corrected or changed. You must cite the particular record, the nature of the error and why it should be changed. If your request is granted, the SBI will immediately contact anyone who requested your criminal record in the preceding year and report the correction.
The other option is to file a Petition for Executive Clemency with the governor and obtain a pardon. The governor is given discretion to grant a pardon or clemency, which essentially forgives you for the crime, although, if granted, your adult criminal record is not destroyed but sealed. It is considered “nonconviction data" and may not be available for public viewing. A conditional pardon does not seal your criminal record.
To seek a pardon, you must wait a minimum of five years from the date you fully completed your sentence and served your probation. You may not seek a pardon for any drunk driving offense, sex offense for which you must register, or if you have more than one criminal conviction. Further, you may not seek a pardon if your sole purpose is for restoration of your right to possess firearms.
Consult a Local Attorney
Each state has its own laws and procedures regarding expungement or record sealing availability and eligibility. For more information about how expungement, record sealing or clemency affects your unique situation, contact a Maine expungement attorney.