Maryland Public Records
Maryland's Public Information Act (PIA) gives the public the right to access certain government records. The PIA applies to all state and local government agencies in Maryland, including the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of state government.
Unlike other states, Maryland's PIA does not require that a request be made in writing, and non-citizens can request records. An agency must need to respond to a request within 30 days. However, this timeline can be extended if the requested information is particularly voluminous or if it needs to be retrieved from off-site storage.
How to Find Maryland Public Records
There is no central repository of public records in Maryland. Each state and local government agency is responsible for maintaining its records.
There are three ways to request public records from a state or local government agency in Maryland:
- In-person: You can visit the office of the agency you want to request records from and make your request in person. Make sure you have a valid form of identification, such as a driver's license or passport.
- By mail: You can send a written request for records to the agency's address. Some agencies also have a form you can fill out and submit by mail.
- Online: Many state and local government agencies in Maryland have online portals that allow you to look up and request public records online.
Before making a request, you may want to contact the agency to find out what types of records are available and how to request them. Some agencies also charge fees for copies of documents.
Are Maryland Public Records Available Online?
As mentioned above, many state and local government agencies in Maryland offer online portals requesting public records.
For instance, the Maryland Sex Offender Registry, maintained by the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, is available online. The registry includes information on sex offenders convicted of certain crimes and those required to register with the state.
Third-party websites such as InfoTracer also offer online public records searches for a fee. These websites compile information from multiple sources, including state and local government agencies, to create detailed reports on individuals.
What Records are Available in Maryland?
The types of records available from state and local government agencies in Maryland vary depending on the agency.
Common types of records that are available from government agencies include:
- Arrest records
- Court records
- Property records
- Vital records
- Business licenses
- Driver's license records
- Criminal History
- And more
What Records are Non-Public in Maryland?
To protect the privacy of individuals, some types of records are not available to the public. These include:
- Records that are protected by the attorney-client privilege
- Personnel records
- Medical records
- Adoption and welfare records
- Law enforcement investigation records
- Some types of financial information
- And more
If you seek a record unavailable to the public, you may need to file a petition with the court. A judge will then determine whether or not the record can be released. You can refer to the Maryland Public Information Act exceptions here for more information.
Types of Public Records Available in Maryland
Listed below are some common types of public records that are available in Maryland:
Maryland Public Criminal Records
While criminal records in Maryland are considered public records, they are a bit tricky to obtain in some cases. The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, also known as the MDPSCS, is the state's central repository for criminal records. Still, they will not provide copies of records to anyone.
Employers who wish to conduct a background check on an applicant must complete the Private Party Petition Packet and send it to the Criminal Justice Information System Central Repository.
After receiving a response from the Repository, they can request criminal records from the MDPSCS. This is a fingerprint-based search, so employers must have the applicant's fingerprints on file. There are authorized fingerprinting services throughout the state that can provide this service.
Other ways to obtain criminal records in Maryland include searching:
- Local police department records
- Court records
- Jail and prison records
- Sex offender registry
Police Departments and Sheriffe Office in Maryland :
Arrest Records and Warrants
You can access arrest records and warrants through the MDPSCS and local police department records. These records will show if an individual has been arrested or is currently wanted by the police.
Court records can also be searched to see if an individual has any arrest warrants. You can use the Maryland Judiciary Case Search site to search court records by entering the individual's name.
Inmate and Jail Records
There are currently 19 state prisons with MDPSCS and numerous county and city jails.
You can use the Inmate Locator on the MDPSCS website to find an incarcerated individual in state prison. You must enter the individual's name and inmate number if known.
Information that is available through the Inmate Locator includes:
- Date of birth
- Inmate number
- Release date
- Projected release date
You can also search for an individual incarcerated in a county or city jail by contacting the jail directly.
Jails and Prisons in Maryland :
Maryland Background Checks
Maryland follows the FCRA guidelines when it comes to conducting background checks. This means employers must first get the applicant's written consent before ordering a report.
There are different types of reports that can be ordered, including:
- Criminal record check
- Credit report
- Driving record
- Employment History
- Educational History
There are also several laws that employers must be aware of when conducting background checks, including the Ban the Box Law, wherein employers cannot legally ask about an applicant's criminal history on the initial job application. The Social Media Law also prohibits employers from requiring applicants or employees to provide access to their social media accounts.
How to find Sex Offenders in Maryland
As mentioned above, one way to find sex offenders in Maryland is to search the Sex Offender Registry. This registry is maintained by the MDPSCS and can be searched by name, address, or county.
The registry will provide the following information on each offender:
- Date of birth
- Eye color
- Hair color
- Scars, marks, and tattoos
The Maryland Sex Offender Registry is updated regularly and includes violent and non-violent offenders.
Maryland Public Vital Records
The Division of Vital Records under the Department of Health is responsible for maintaining and issuing birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates in Maryland.
You can also order vital records through VitalChek or by mail. Proof of identity is required when ordering records through VitalChek or by mail.
The cost of vital records varies depending on the record type and how many copies you order.
Maryland Court Records
To search court records, you must enter the court type and the company/individual name. You can also search by case number if you have it.
You can also access court records in person or by mail. You must contact the court clerk where the case was filed to do so. The cost of court records varies depending on the record type and how many copies you order.
State Court System in Maryland
The Maryland Courts are comprised of the following:
- Maryland Court of Appeals
- Maryland Circuit Courts
- District Courts of Maryland
- Orphans' Courts
- Appellate Courts
Courts in Maryland :
The Motor Vehicle Administration under the Maryland Department of Transportation is responsible for maintaining and issuing driving records. You can order your driving record through the MVA's online portal by creating an account.
You can also order your driving record by visiting the nearest MVA branch office, filling up the Motor Vehicle Administrative Records, and submitting the fee and the required documents.
Civil Driving Infractions
Traffic violations in Maryland are classified as either civil driving infractions or criminal traffic offenses. Civil traffic offenses result in fines and points on your driver's license but will not appear on your criminal record.
On the other hand, criminal traffic offenses are more severe and can result in jail time, a suspended license, or even a felony conviction.
Some examples of civil traffic offenses in Maryland include:
- Driving without insurance
- Failure to wear a seatbelt
- Reckless driving
- Running a stop sign
- Making an illegal turn
- Driving with a suspended license
Maryland License Plate Lookup
Maryland does not have a public database for license plate lookup. However, you can request records from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration if you have a legitimate reason for doing so.
You can also use third-party websites to conduct a license plate lookup. However, these websites are not always accurate and should not be used for official purposes.
Maryland Property and Asset Records Online
Each county also has a Registry of Deeds where you can find information on property ownership, liens, and more. Depending on the county of interest, you may be able to access records online, or you may need to request them in person or by mail.
Some counties charge a fee for property records, while others provide them free.
Important Government Agencies in Maryland
The following agencies can be used to access public records in Maryland:
- Secretary of State
- State Governor
- Maryland State Archives
- Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services
- Attorney General
- Department of Health
- Maryland State Police
- Department of Assessments and Taxation
- Maryland Courts
- Motor Vehicle Administration
- Maryland Department of Transportation
Counties in Maryland
List of Content
- How to Find Maryland Public Records
- What Records are Available in Maryland?
- Types of Public Records Available in Maryland
- Important Government Agencies in Maryland