Many people are genuinely concerned about the impact their criminal record may have on their lives moving forward. Unfortunately, Maine law does not provide for the expungement of criminal records, except under very limited circumstances.
Maine law does permit executive pardons (under certain circumstances) by the Governor. In addition, it provides for expungement sealing of the records for Class E convictions (misdemeanors) of individuals that were committed while a person was 18 years old or older but younger then 21 if the person has not been convicted of any other offenses. See, Collateral Consequences Resource Center for details of this process. The sealed record of such convictions may not be disseminated to anyone except other criminal justice agencies. Also, a person whose record is sealed pursuant to this provision may respond to non criminal justice inquiries by not disclosing the sealed information.
Maine’s juvenile code permits an individual to petition the court to seal all juvenile adjudication records three years after the end of the juvenile case so long as there are no further adjudications or pending matters. Once sealed the juvenile may deny the existence of the record.
Why should a person seek to expunge a criminal record?
There are multiple reasons to seal or to one’s criminal record including:
- Most people believe that a youthful indiscretion or mistake should not impact your life forever. the idea is that a young person will learn from his or her mistake, mature , and change. Such people deserve a second chance without a blemish on their record.
- Many young people plead guilty, not realizing that it may impact their life. Many people accept a plea deal without a thought of its consequences over time. They just want to pay the fine and move on with their life. However, in many instances even a minor criminal record can present an impediment to future education and employment opportunities.
If you are successful, who is prevented from learning of a criminal record once it is sealed?
Most people won’t be able to obtain a criminal record if it is sealed. This includes:
- Your family and friends.
- The military. You will be eligible to serve in the military because your background check is going to be clean.
- Potential employers. Many convicted criminals struggle to find a job because of their record.
- Licensing boards. If you have a professional license (accountant, veterinarian, etc.), you don’t have to worry about losing it because of your record.
- Landlord. A criminal conviction may be an obstacle in renting an apartment.
- Loan officers. It may also make it more difficult to obtain a loan.
So, who can see it?
A sealed criminal record is still available to criminal justice agencies. This means that you may still not be able to do the following:
- You may be restricted in travelling internationally to certain countries including Canada. comes to international travel.
- Your ability to own or possess a firearm may be restricted.
- Certain convictions may present immigration problems as well.
Nobody wants to live with the stupid mistakes that they made when they were young and they shouldn’t have to. If you committed a Class E crime when you were between eighteen and twenty-one, you may want to explore sealing your record but only if you meet certain criteria.