In the state of Maine, expungement is the removal of previous criminal records from public view and from the view of law enforcement officials. When a record is expunged, the only people who can access it are government officials who are granted access by a court order. Examples include running for public office and applying to the United States military.
In the state of Maine, instead of expunging records, they are sealed. Because the public will not have access to these records, those with sealed records will not be implicated when applying for jobs, licensing, or other situations that require background information. When a record is sealed, it does not disappear completely. In the case of juvenile records, they are sealed rather than expunged in Maine. This means that the general public cannot access them, but public law enforcement can.
It is critical to understand that even if a record has been sealed or expunged, it can still be used in court as a prior offense if a future offense is to be tried.
Maine Sealing Eligibility
Maine defines who is eligible for record sealing in three sections. The first group of people who are eligible for record sealing are juvenile offenders who have been released from the circumstances of their juvenile crime for at least three years. The second category includes those who have not been convicted of committing a crime and have not been convicted of committing a juvenile crime since the date of their disposition. The third and final category includes those who do not have any current adjudicatory proceedings marked as juvenile crimes or any other crimes.
If all of the sealing requirements are met, the court can grant the petition. According to Maine Law 3308, the court may also deny the petition if the general public’s interest in the information outweighs the individual’s interest. This means that if sealing the records is not in the best interests of the court, the request will be denied.
Because Maine rarely grants expungement, pardons and executive clemency are typically the only options for removing a criminal record. After a pardon is granted, the record is considered a non-conviction and can only be accessed under certain conditions. Normal misdemeanors can be expunged with a pardon from the Maine Pardon Board. The same is true for regular felonies. In most cases, driving under the influence offenses in Maine cannot be pardoned or expunged.
Maine pardon laws are found in Title 16 of the Maine Revised Statutes Annotated, Sections 611 and 622, and laws for executive clemency are found in Section 11 of Article V’s first portion of the Maine Constitution. The Maine Secretary of State can provide information on obtaining a certificate of rehabilitation or executive clemency.
When a sealing occurs, all records relating to the juvenile crime as well as all information surrounding the crime may be sealed. This includes any previous juvenile records and information.