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General Information About Maine Public Records and Laws
Maine public records fall under the law in the state called the Maine Freedom of Access Act, or FOAA. It is a part of the Statutes Title One, Chapter 13 section of the state's law code. This law outlines what is considered a public record, who can access that information and how to obtain it. A public record comes from any state, county, city or township government or agency. Any laws in place in the state are superseded by the Freedom of Information Act, a federal law.
A public record in the state is any type of written, printed or graphic matter in an electronic or material form, or information in the custody of the government agency, association or other governing body. This information includes the following types of data, as well as other forms.
·         Vital statistics data, including documentation of those born in the state, death certificates, burial records and marriage documentation (both for marriage and divorce)
·         Property records, including the transfer of real estate from one person to another, or within business transactions, code ordinances, taxation records and liens
·         Most types of court records, including civil and criminal documents and records, depending on the information contained
·         All types of government meeting minutes, policies and documents outlining the rights, laws and actions of a governing body
Some information may be considered protected or exempt from access by the public. This information is any type of record that could be used against another person in an illegal manner. It also includes juvenile records without a court, welfare records, documents that could lead to compromising an ongoing investigation. Personally identifiable information for police officers and government agents may also be protected.
Accessing Maine Public Records
In order to gain access to Maine public records, individuals most commonly need to visit the government agency or the office of the appropriate party and request the information in writing. Some of the most common records, though, are readily accessible, even through the Internet. Government sites may provide a searchable site, but third parties also may offer this information.
Individuals are likely to receive information in a timely manner. Under Maine public records laws, the agency must take steps necessary to provide the information requested in a timely manner, though some forms of information may take longer to obtain. The agencies must make records available for viewing or copying during normal business hours.
The following agencies provide some of this information.
·         The state's Attorney General's Office manages most in-state business and nonprofit organization records, in addition to other justice related materials.
·         For vital statistics, contact the Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of Vital Records.
·         Criminal records are searchable through the Maine State Police, within the limitations of the law.
·         For statewide court records, contact the State Court Administrator.
·         For the sexual offender registry, contact the State Bureau of Investigation, Sex Offender Registry.
In Maine, public records are often readily available upon request, though individuals requiring more extensive information may need to give written notice.
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