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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 :

Montgomery County Sheriff's Office50 Maryland Ave, Rockville, MD
Baltimore city/county Sheriff's Office401 Bosley Avenue, Ground Floor, Towson, MD
Howard County Sheriff's Office8360 Court Ave, Ellicott City, MD
Harford County Sheriff's Office45 South Main Street, Bel Air, MD
Frederick County Sheriff's Office110 Airport Dr E, Frederick, MD
Carroll County Sheriff's Office100 N Court St, Westminster, MD
Washington County Sheriff's Office500 Western Maryland Pkwy, Hagerstown, MD
Charles County Sheriff's Office6855 Crain Hwy, La Plata, MD
Cecil County Sheriff's Office107 Chesapeake Blvd Suite 112, Elkton, MD
Wicomico County Sheriff's Office401 W Naylor Mill Rd, Salisbury, MD

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.

Some counties also have an online searchable database of warrants. For instance, Anne Arundel County has an online database of active warrants.

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:

  • Name
  • Photos
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Date of birth
  • Location
  • 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 :

Montgomery County MD Correctional Facility22880 Whelan Lane, Boyds, MD
Montgomery County MD Detention Center1307 Seven Locks Road, Rockville, MD
Baltimore County Department of Corrections720 Bosley Avenue, Towson, MD
Howard County MD Detention Center7301 Waterloo Road, PO Box 250, Jessup, MD
Harford County Detention Center1030 Rock Spring Road, Bel Air, MD
Frederick County MD Detention Center7300 Marcie's Choice Lane, Frederick, MD

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:

  • Name
  • Photo
  • Address
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Date of birth
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Eye color
  • Hair color
  • Scars, marks, and tattoos
  • Addresses
  • Vehicles

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.

The Division of Vital Records' lobby is on an appointment-only basis, and you must schedule all appointments at least 24 hours in advance. You can book an appointment here to request vital records.

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

The Maryland Courts have an online Case Search tool that provides access to District and Circuit  Court records. These records include criminal and civil cases.

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 :

Montgomery County Circuit Court50 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD
Montgomery County District Court191 East Jefferson Street, Rockville, MD
Baltimore County District Court5800 Wabash Avenue, Baltimore, MD
Howard County District Court3451 Courthouse Drive, Ellicott City, MD
Howard County Circuit Court9250 Judicial Way Suite 1900, Ellicott, MD
Harford County Circuit Court20 West Courtland Street, Bel Air, MD
Harford County District Court2 South Bond Street Suite 100, Bel Air, MD
Frederick County District Court100 W. Patrick Street, Frederick, MD
Frederick County Circuit Court100 W. Patrick Street, Frederick, MD
Carroll County District Court101 North Court Street, Westminster, MD

Driving Records

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:

  • Speeding
  • 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

The Department of Assessments and Taxation has an online real property search where you can look up information on property taxes, sales history, and more.

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.

Meanwhile, unclaimed properties in Maryland are managed by the Comptroller. You can search for unclaimed property online using the Comptroller's database.

Important Government Agencies in Maryland

The following agencies can be used to access public records in Maryland:

  1. Secretary of State
  2. State Governor
  3. Maryland State Archives
  4. Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services
  5. Attorney General
  6. Department of Health
  7. Maryland State Police
  8. Department of Assessments and Taxation
  9. Maryland Courts
  10. Motor Vehicle Administration
  11. Maryland Department of Transportation
  12. Comptroller

Counties in Maryland

Other Records in Maryland