A felony has a big impact on a person’s life and if you live in Maine, you’ve come here trying to find out how to get the felony off your record. Realize that with all felony records, there are three options you can take. 1) Expunge Your Record2) Seal Your Record 3) Request a Pardon of Your Record. The problem though is that all states don’t offer all three of these options. But before we get into what Maine offers, let’s review what each of these options actually mean.
If you get your record expunged in Maine it’s as if your arrest and/or charges never happened. Your record is completely destroyed, including all physical and public records. When asked if have a criminal record, after expungement, you can truthfully answer “no”.
Sealing your record in Maine is similar to expungement, but your record still exists in a limited form. The public does not have access to your record, but there are some exceptions. Your records can still be accessed by law enforcement and the courts. Record sealing is not as secure as expungement, but it is a reasonable alternative that is comparatively easier to obtain if your state offers it.
If you receive a pardon in Maine, you still have record of your arrest or charge, but your guilt is exonerated. That is, you have proven that you are rehabilitated and forgiven for your crimes. You can also get relief in terms of having various rights restored, such as your right to vote. The requirements for pardons vary between states, but typically there is a lot of documentation required, and includes lengthy waiting periods to apply and receive a pardon.
Things to Know Before You Start
First: It’s important to understand that every state is different in terms of what methods are available for felons to remove their record and the information below will help you understand what you can do in Maine.
Felony Expungement in Maine
No, it is not possible to expunge your felony in Maine.
Sealing a Record in Maine
Yes, it is possible to seal your record in Maine but it depends on the felony.
Getting a Pardon in Maine
Yes, it is possible to get a pardon of your record in Maine but it depends on the felony.
Second: When trying to clear your record, you really have two options. The first is to get a free consultation from a lawyer to see what they think of your case, and the second is to try to do all of the paperwork yourself.
Third: We HIGHLY recommend that you get a free consultation from a lawyer prior to taking any action. We say this because whether you want to expunge, seal, or pardon your record, it’s an extremely complicated process. Failure to follow the process properly can end up with you being denied for the request and having to wait additional time (sometimes several years) before you can file again. In addition, getting an expungement lawyer can increase your odds of succeeding and sometimes it’s more affordable than you think. The first step is to click on the button below to confirm that you’re eligible for the expungement/sealing off your record.
Can You Expunge a Felony in Maine?
There is no ability to expunge a Felony in Maine, so criminal records never get “wiped clean.”
Can You Seal Your Criminal Record in Maine?
Under a 2015 law, courts may seal the records of convictions for Class E crimes (misdemeanors) that were committed while a person was 18 years old or older but younger than 21 if the person has not been convicted of any other offenses and has no charges pending.
Note: You can get a deferred adjudication- which could allow for you to turn your felony into a misdemeanor.
“A person who has pled guilty to a Class C, Class D or Class E crime and who consents to a deferred disposition in writing is eligible for a deferred disposition.”
That means, if you qualify for a deferred disposition, and successfully complete the required period of deferment, you can possibly get a felony knocked down to a misdemeanor.
CANNOT SEAL IF…
If you were over the age of 21 If you were not between the ages of 18 and 21 when you were convicted of a Class E crime you cannot petition to have your record sealed. Class E crimes include minor offenses like disorderly conduct and theft.You have other convictions or pending criminal charges. If you have other convictions or pending criminal charges, you cannot petition to have your record sealed.
How to Seal Your Criminal Record in Maine
If you were convicted of a crime in Maine, the only way to clear your record is to receive a pardon. There is a specific process to follow to apply for a pardon in Maine. To qualify, you must wait at least five years from the date that you completed your sentence.Certain offenses — including driving under the influence – cannot be pardoned under Maine law.
• Before you begin this process, we insist that you take this eligibility test to determine if you’re eligible to seal your record.
• If you are eligible, you should talk to the lawyer that we refer you to so that you get an idea of the price for their services (it’s likely cheaper than you think because expungements are mostly paperwork) and see what other helpful information they can give you.
• If you are not eligible to seal your record based on our test, then you should stop here.
Can You Apply for a Pardon in Maine?
The governor of Maine has authority to pardon, assisted by the non-statutory Governor’s Board on Executive Clemency. The Board is composed of three members appointed by the governor, and they make recommendations to the governor on each pardon petition. They also have the power to hold public hearings on such petitions, but the final decision rests with the governor.
In Maine, the pardon does not need not be absolute; the Governor can put any restrictions, limitations, or conditions on it as he deems proper.
Maine Constitution, Article V, Part First, section 11
CANNOT PARDON IF…
Five years have not passedYou cannot petition for a pardon until five (5) years have elapsed from the date of completion of your entire sentence, including any probation periods associated with the sentence. Note: the Governor can make exceptions to this rule. For example, if you are currently incarcerated (i.e., currently in prison), you can try to apply for a pardon, and if granted there will usually be conditions attached which if you violate would cause you to be brought back into prison. Multiple Offenses: You cannot petition for a pardon if you already have one or more additional serious criminal convictions that are not included in your application.
How to Apply for a Pardon in Maine
• Before you begin this process, we insist that you take this eligibility test to determine if you’re eligible to request a pardon for your record. In most cases, if you are eligible for expungement on our test, then you’ll be eligible for a pardon.
• If you are eligible, you should talk to the lawyer that we refer you to so that you get an idea of the price for their services (it’s likely cheaper than you think because requesting a pardon is mostly paperwork) and see what other helpful information they can give you.
• If you are not eligible based on our test, then you should stop here.
• If you are eligible based on our test and want to do this without a lawyer, continue reading.
• Download the application form, available here (make sure you are using the most up-to-date form)If you cannot access the Division of Adult Community Correction’s website or the application form itself, you can call 207-287-4340 and have one mailed or emailed to you. You can also write to:Department of CorrectionsDivision of Adult Community Corrections111 State House StationAugusta, Maine 04333
• You must complete the petition and identify every conviction that you wish to have pardoned.
• You must obtain a certified copy of the charging document (information, indictment, or complaint), the judgment and commitment sheet, and the court docket sheet for each conviction you want a pardon for.
• You can obtain most if not all of these documents from the clerk’s office of the court where you were convicted.
• You also must obtain from the court in which you were convicted, a certified copy of the CHARGING INSTRUMENT (e.g., the Indictment, Information, or Complaint), JUDGMENT AND COMMITMENT FORM, and DOCKET SHEET for each conviction for which Executive Clemency is sought.
• If you are not able to obtain the above forms (e.g. because they were destroyed or archived due to the age of the conviction), you must have the Clerk of the Courts certify in writing that the documents are unavailable
• You will need information about every conviction you have ever received in Maine and elsewhere
• This includes the arresting agency (police department or agency that arrested you), the court docket number, the county where you were convicted, and the sentence you received. You must obtain a certified copy of the charging document (information, indictment, or complaint), the judgment and commitment sheet, and the court docket sheet for each conviction you want a pardon for.
• You can obtain most if not all of these documents from the clerk’s office of the court where you were convicted. After you have gathered these documents, you must send them along with your application form.
• If you do not remember the details or whereabouts of a particular conviction, you should contact the Maine State Bureau of Identification at (207) 624-7240 to find out how you can obtain a criminal report for yourself. The report should list most if not all arrests and convictions you have ever received in Maine.
• If you have convictions in other states, you can obtain a more comprehensive, nationwide report from the FBI by calling its headquarters in Washington, D.C., at (202) 324-3000 or logging onto its website at http://www.fbi.gov. The FBI’s website also has a list of local FBI offices you can call. In the alternative, you can contact the criminal history record repository (which keeps a record of all criminal activity in a state) in each state where you have arrests/convictions. Listed on Criminal History Record Repositories is a list of criminal history record repositories for all 50 states.
• Also indicate on your personal statement all the positive things that have occurred in your life—for example, educational achievements, new or stable employment, marriage and children, community involvement, charitable services or donations, law-abiding behavior, etc.
• Submit copies of your college transcript, high school diploma or GED, military certificates, marriage certificate, honors and awards, and other proof of your rehabilitation and good character.
• Explain what your future plans are and how a pardon would help or hinder those plans.
• Simply saying you want a clean criminal record again is not enough.
• Tell the Board/Governor how your conviction has negatively affected you and/or your family.
• For example, explain how you have been denied housing or employment opportunities because of your conviction, and how this has prevented you from providing your family and you an adequate standard of living.
• If you are facing deportation because of a conviction, explain how being separated from your family will negatively affect you as well as them.
• If you are pursuing a career in a field that requires you to obtain a pardon, submit documents, letters, or other proof from a prospective employer, licensing agency, or attorney verifying this necessity.
• If you need to regain your gun rights, explain why you need this—for example, you are pursuing a career that requires the use of firearms, or you want to take part in your family hunting traditions, or you simply want to feel more secure and able to defend yourself and/or your family after a recent traumatic event.We highly suggest that you submit, on a separate sheet of paper, a detailed and genuine personal statement explaining why you need a pardon.
• In writing your personal statement, keep in mind that the Parole Board/Governor is not retrying you for the offense.
• Although you may feel the need to explain the facts of the crime from your perspective, avoid trying to make excessive excuses for your crime and arguing away your guilt.
• Whatever you feel about the crime, you had already been found guilty.
• The Parole Board/Governor is probably more interested in seeing your remorse for the crime, and your understanding of its effects on the victim and society, than anything else.9. Also, although not required, if possible you should have friends, family members, a past or present employer, your minister, church members, co-workers, and others in your community write letters of recommendation for you.
• These letters should indicate to what extent the writer knows you and why he or she thinks you should be granted a pardon.
• The letters should also indicate the writer’s contact information for verification purposes.
• If possible, you should choose individuals who are not related to you, in order to avoid the appearance of bias.10. Once completed, the petition must be notarized and sent, along with all required documents, to the Department of Corrections.Department of Corrections Division of Adult Community Corrections 111 State House Station Augusta, Maine 04333
• The Secretary of State’s office will obtain your full driving record and send your entire file to the Department of Corrections, who will do a criminal background check on you.
• After this is done, the Department of Corrections will send your file over to the Parole Board, who will examine your application materials and will either grant or deny you a hearing on your pardon application.11. If you are granted a hearing, you will be asked to appear before the Board at its next regularly scheduled meeting.
• At the hearing, the Board will have an opportunity to ask you about matters involving your application for clemency, including the reason why clemency is being sought and the circumstances surrounding the crime(s) for which a pardon or commutation is being requested.
• These hearings are open to the public.
• In the meantime, the Division of Probation and Parole within the Department of Corrections will conduct a more thorough background investigation and present its findings to the Board.
• The investigation will include a personal interview between you and a member of the staff from Division of Probation and Parole.
• That Division will contact each Petitioner to establish a mutually convenient time for an interview.
• The investigating officer may also conduct additional interviews with the your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors or others in your community regarding your request for clemency.
• Prior to the hearing, you must publish in a newspaper a Legal Notice announcing that a Pardon or Commutation hearing will be held.
• The specific requirements of the legal notice will be provided to the Petitioner by the Department of Corrections.
• The notice must be published once a week for four consecutive weeks prior to the date of the hearing. You will also be required to give the Secretary of State’s office a copy of the publication as proof.
• You must incur the costs for the publication of this Legal Notice.12. At your hearing, you must look and act your best; dress in a way you would if you were going to court for a trial.
• The hearing would be an excellent opportunity for you to put a human face onto your application; it lets the Board not only see you in person but also see the amount of support you have in your community.
• The whole process, from beginning to end, typically lasts for six months to a year, but in some cases may be longer than a year. If the Board denies you a hearing or the Governor denies you a pardon, their decisions are final; this means you cannot appeal the decision to a court. However, you may re-apply in a year following the denial.
So, there you have it. Three separate ways to get rid of your record in Maine. As we’ve said numerous times throughout this page, this is a really complicated process and we highly recommend that you take this eligibility test prior to taking any action to determine if you are eligible for any of these options.
Please note, the information contained here is not legal advice and is strictly informational. If you have any further questions about the information above, or in general, you need to contact a lawyer directly.