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Maryland Public Records

How to request Maryland Public Records?

Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA), codified under Maryland Code, General Provisions, §§ 4-101 through 4-601, defines public records as any documentary material or any information that falls under the possession or control of a governmental agency. This includes written, printed, photographic, or electronic records, as well as any other form of recorded information. The information must pertain to the transaction of public business or be related to the expenditure of public funds to be considered a public record.

Table of Contents

If you're interested in accessing public records in Maryland, it's crucial to understand the procedure to ensure that your request is handled efficiently. Below is a step-by-step guide tailored to the State of Maryland's specific requirements:

Where to Find Public Records in Maryland

Different agencies in Maryland oversee various types of records. Here are common places to find them:

Vital Records (Birth, Death, Marriage, Divorce):

The Maryland Department of Health manages these records. You can request these documents online, by mail, or in person. More information can be found on the Maryland Department of Health's Vital Records webpage.

Property Records:

ypically, property records are held at the Land Records Department in the respective county where the property is located. Many counties offer online databases or services where these records can be accessed. Specific details can usually be found on each county's website.

Business Records:

The Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation manages records related to businesses. More information is available on the Department's official website.

Court Records:

Court records in Maryland are overseen by the Maryland Judiciary. Each court may have specific procedures for requesting records. Information can be accessed through the Maryland Judiciary's website.

Driving Records:

Driving records are managed by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). Records can be requested in several ways, and details can be found on the MVA's website.

Professional Licenses

To verify a professional's license in Maryland, you can visit the Maryland Department of Labor or other appropriate licensing boards depending on the profession. More details can be found on the Department of Labor's website.

Maryland State Archives:

For historical records or older documents, the Maryland State Archives is a valuable resource. You can visit their official website for more information.

Is Access to Public Records in Maryland Available Online?

In Maryland, a significant number of public records are accessible online, facilitated by the Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA). The MPIA empowers the public to inspect and obtain information held by state, county, and municipal agencies.

Various Maryland government agencies offer different online platforms and databases for accessing these records. The availability of specific records may vary depending on the agency responsible and the type of records in question. As such, it’s advisable to consult directly with the relevant agency or visit their official website to obtain the most accurate and current information.

State Public Records Law

The Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA) is designed to foster governmental accountability and transparency by enabling public access to records held by government agencies in Maryland. Below are some key aspects of the law:

Which Records are Public in Maryland?

Which Records are Not Public in Maryland?

Maryland Background Checks

In Maryland, background checks serve various purposes, including employment screening, tenant leasing, and business partnerships. These checks typically encompass criminal history, employment history, educational verification, credit reports, and reference checks. The depth of these checks can vary depending on the specific needs of the situation.

Maryland has its set of laws governing background checks, which operate in addition to federal laws like the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). These laws aim to safeguard the privacy and rights of individuals during the background check process by setting guidelines on how personal data should be collected, used, and shared.

Compliance with both legal and ethical norms is crucial when performing background checks in Maryland. Vital steps include obtaining explicit consent from the subject, ensuring data privacy and confidentiality, and providing individuals with the opportunity to review and contest any inaccuracies in their background reports.

What Can Be Included in a Maryland Background Check Report?

Criminal Records

This part may include state and federal convictions, incarcerations, sexual offenses, traffic violations, and potential listings on national terrorism watchlists.

Social Security/Citizenship Verification

Verification of an individual's social security number, aliases, and legal U.S. citizenship status is often included.

Sex Offender Registry

By Maryland law, registered sex offenders must be listed in a public database.

Terrorism Watch List

The federal government maintains lists of individuals suspected of having ties to terrorism. This information may appear in the report.

Driving Records

When driving is part of the individual’s responsibilities, a thorough check of their driving history, including DUIs or reckless driving incidents, is necessary.

Education Transcripts

Verification of educational qualifications can corroborate what an individual has listed on their application or resume.

Credit Report

A credit report can provide insights into how an individual manages their finances, especially important for roles involving financial responsibilities.

Maryland Court Records

Overview of the Maryland Court System and Its Structure

Maryland’s judicial system consists of several tiers of courts, each with its own jurisdiction and set of responsibilities. Below is a general outline of the Maryland court system:

  • Maryland Court of Appeals: This is the highest court in the state and primarily hears appeals from lower courts. It has the authority to interpret the Maryland Constitution and state laws. The court also provides oversight for the entire Maryland judiciary.
  • Maryland Court of Special Appeals: Serving as an intermediate appellate court, this court hears appeals from lower trial courts. It provides a secondary level of review for decisions made in Circuit Courts and Orphans’ Courts, when applicable.
  • Circuit Courts: In Maryland, these are the general jurisdiction trial courts that handle a wide variety of civil, criminal, and family law matters. The Circuit Courts also have jurisdiction over appeals from the District Courts in civil and criminal cases that have been tried before a judge and certain administrative agencies.
  • District Courts: These are limited jurisdiction courts that handle civil cases involving amounts up to $30,000, landlord and tenant disputes, replevin actions, motor vehicle violations, and certain misdemeanor criminal offenses. District Courts do not hold jury trials.
  • Orphans’ Courts: These specialized courts handle probate matters and issues concerning estates and wills.
  • Specialized Courts: Maryland also has specialized problem-solving courts that focus on specific areas or populations, such as drug courts, mental health courts, and veterans treatment courts.

Every court within the Maryland judicial system adheres to its own set of rules and procedures but is governed by Maryland state laws and regulations. The overarching objective of the Maryland judicial system is to facilitate fair and effective legal dispute resolution, ensure accessibility to justice, and uphold the principles of due process and the rule of law.

Types of Maryland Court Records

Civil Court Records​

Criminal Court

Family Court Records​

Specialized Court Records

Orphans' Court Records (Probate Court)

District Court Records

Traffic Court Records​

Maryland Court Records: Restrictions, Limitations, and Confidentiality

Court records in Maryland are subject to specific confidentiality provisions and restrictions designed to protect sensitive information and individual privacy.

  • Sealed Records: These records contain confidential or sensitive information and are generally not available to the public. A court order is typically required to unseal such records, and this usually occurs only for compelling legal reasons.
  • Juvenile Court Records: In Maryland, records involving minors in legal proceedings are generally confidential and are accessible only to authorized individuals, such as legal guardians, attorneys, and certain government entities.
  • Mental Health and Orphans’ Court Records: Similar to juvenile records, these are often restricted to protect privacy and confidentiality. Access usually requires a court order or is limited to authorized individuals involved in the case.
  • Redaction of Sensitive Information: Maryland courts take steps to secure confidential data within records by redacting sensitive personal details like Social Security numbers or financial information.
  • Trade Secrets and Proprietary Information: Court records containing trade secrets, proprietary details, or sensitive business information may be withheld from public view. The court has the authority to limit or redact specific sections to prevent the misuse or unauthorized dissemination of such information.

In Maryland, the management of court records adheres to state laws and is often overseen by the Maryland Judiciary’s Administrative Office of the Courts. Access to these records is also governed by the Maryland Rules on Access to Court Records, which outlines the specifics of public access and restrictions.

What Do These Records Contain?

The highest court in the state of Maryland.

Maryland Public Vital Records

Marriage and Divorce Records: In Maryland, marriage licenses can generally be obtained from the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county where the marriage license was issued. Divorce decrees are also available from the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county where the divorce was finalized.

Birth and Death Records: The Maryland Department of Health’s Vital Statistics Administration is the central repository for vital records, including birth and death certificates.

Categories of Vital Records: In Maryland, vital records come in two main categories: certified and informational copies.

  • Certified Vital Records: These are usually available only to the individual named on the record, immediate family members, or those with a legal interest, like authorized representatives, lawyers, or government officials requiring the records for official use.
  • Informational Copies: These contain the same information as certified copies but are marked as “not for legal use.” They are not accepted as legal proof of identity or relationship.

Vital records in Maryland can be requested in various ways: online through the Maryland Department of Health’s website, by mail, or in-person at the Vital Statistics Administration office.

The fees for these records in Maryland are as follows (note that fees are subject to change):

Birth certificates$10.00 – $22.00 (varies by county)
Marriage certificates$5.00
Divorce certificates$12.00 (State fee, additional county fees may apply)
Death certificates$18.00

Maryland Public Criminal Records

Definition and Types of Criminal Records in Maryland

In Maryland, criminal records are official documents that encapsulate a person’s criminal history within the state. These records encompass detailed reports of an individual’s engagements with the criminal justice system, covering aspects such as arrest records, court proceedings, conviction data, sentencing reports, and information concerning probation or parole.

Information contained in criminal records

  • Personal Identification Information: This segment features the individual’s full name, any known aliases or nicknames, their birth date, and sometimes their residential address.
  • Arrest Records and Charges: This includes specifics of the arrest event, including date and location, the involved law enforcement agency, and the specific charges filed against the individual.
  • Court Case Information and Outcomes: Here, you find details about the judicial proceedings such as the court name, case number, status, and vital dates including arraignment, pretrial hearings, and the results of the trial.
  • Convictions and Sentencing Details: In cases where the individual is convicted, this area will detail the exact charges they were convicted of, along with the nuances of any sentences imposed, be it fines, probation periods, community service obligations, or imprisonment durations.
  • Probation or Parole Status: Details about current probation or parole statuses, encompassing the terms and conditions, may be listed here.

Police Records and Reports

In Maryland, police records are governed by the Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA). This act prescribes that certain records, like arrest documents, be accessible to the public. However, to maintain the integrity of investigations and safeguard victim privacy, certain details may be withheld. To secure these records, an MPIA request needs to be placed with the respective law enforcement agency.

Booking Records and Reports

Also known as booking logs or arrest records, these documents are commonly public and are available either online or directly through the relevant law enforcement agencies.

DUI Records

Maryland identifies Driving Under the Influence (DUI) as a criminal activity. Records of arrests and convictions pertaining to DUI are generally accessible to the public. Details on DUI convictions can be sourced from county court records in Maryland.

Felony and Misdemeanor Records

In Maryland, records of felonies and misdemeanors can usually be accessed through the Circuit Courts or District Courts where the legal proceedings occurred. The Maryland Judiciary Case Search offers an online platform to retrieve arrest, booking, and charge information for individuals who are undergoing or have completed their sentences.

Parole Records

For information on parole records, one can reach out to the Maryland Parole Commission or the relevant court. These documents enclose details on the terms of parole, engagements with parole officers, and progress assessments. Access might be restricted based on specific circumstances.

Probation Records

Probation records in Maryland are generally available through the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services or the respective court where the case was adjudicated. They offer insights into the probation terms, officer reports, and compliance status.

Warrant Search

In Maryland, active warrants are not routinely accessible to the public in order to uphold the privacy of individuals and the security of ongoing investigations. Yet, executed warrants which result in arrests become public records and can be sought from the Maryland Judiciary Case Search or local law enforcement departments.

Inmate And Jail Records

The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services hosts an online database to access current inmate information. This includes their location, booking specifics, charge details, duration of sentence, anticipated release dates, and eligibility for parole.

What You Can Find When Searching for an Inmate in Maryland

When you conduct an inmate search in Maryland, you can generally find the following types of information, in accordance with state laws and available databases:

  • Inmate Location and Facility Details: Inmate searches in Maryland will often provide details on the specific correctional facility where the inmate is housed. This includes the name and contact details of the facility to facilitate easy communication and visits, if permitted.
  • Booking Information and Charges: The search results usually feature crucial details from the inmate’s booking record, including the date of booking and specific charges levied against them. In some instances, you might also find the booking identification number, which can be useful for requesting more detailed information.
  • Sentence Length and Release Dates: Most inmate lookup services in Maryland will offer information on the sentence duration, starting from the initiation date to the projected release date. This is vital information for family members and lawyers who need to keep track of an inmate’s incarceration status.
  • Parole Eligibility and Parole Board Decisions: Depending on the system you are using for your search, you might be able to access information about an inmate’s potential eligibility for parole. This could encompass details on parole board decisions, including hearing outcomes and any conditions that might have been imposed as a part of their parole agreement.

How to Conduct an Inmate Lookup in Maryland

To find accurate and up-to-date information, it is advised to use the official Maryland Inmate Locator provided by the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. This service is designed to help members of the public find information on inmates incarcerated in Maryland’s correctional facilities efficiently.

  • Visit the Maryland Inmate Locator 
  • Enter the Inmate’s Information: The search tool typically requires you to enter either the inmate’s DPSCS ID number or their last name (and optionally their first name, to narrow down the search). Fill in the details you have to proceed with the search.
  • Execute the Search: Once you have filled in the necessary details, click the “Search” button to begin the lookup process.
  • Review the Information: If the inmate is in the Maryland correctional system, the search should yield pertinent details such as their DPSCS ID number, age, date of admission to the facility, current housing location, and potential parole eligibility dates.

Jails & Prisons in Maryland

State Prisons:

County Jails and Detention Centers:

Can I Look Up Mugshots in Maryland?

In Maryland, mugshots, also known as booking photos, are generally considered public records; hence, they are available for public view. These can be accessed through online resources provided by local law enforcement agencies or by placing a public records request through the Maryland Judiciary Case Search, where available. Some county websites or law enforcement agencies may have online directories where you can find mugshots of individuals arrested or currently in custody.

Maryland Arrest Records

Arrest records in Maryland are official documents detailing an individual’s arrest history as documented by law enforcement agencies within the state. These records outline details about the circumstances surrounding the arrest, the charges placed, and any subsequent legal actions taken. Maryland maintains transparency and law enforcement accountability through the public availability of arrest records.

What Do These Records Contain:

Maryland arrest records generally consist of the following information:

  • Personal Identification Details: These records frequently contain personal information such as the individual’s full name, possible aliases or nicknames, date of birth, and sometimes their residential address.
  • Arrest Information: Details of the arrest including the date, time, and location, along with information about the law enforcement agency involved and potentially the name of the arresting officer can be found in these records.
  • Booking Information: The records may document information collated during the booking process, including fingerprints and mugshots.
  • Charges and Criminal Offenses: Arrest records detail the specific charges or criminal offenses associated with the individual’s arrest. This can incorporate details on the alleged offense and references to the relevant laws or statutes involved.
  • Court Case Information: When criminal proceedings have initiated, arrest records may offer particulars about the ensuing court case such as the court handling the case, the case number, and other relevant details.

It is important to note that while arrest records are largely considered public information in Maryland, there could be exceptions based on the specific jurisdiction and the circumstances of the case. Restrictions may apply, and some records may be sealed or expunged depending on various factors, including the nature of the case and the outcome of the court proceedings.

Maryland Property and Asset Records Online

If you’re looking to access public property and asset records in Maryland, a good starting point is the local county websites where the property is located. The Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation is also a primary resource for obtaining these records. Many counties in Maryland have online databases where you can access these property records through their official websites.

Unclaimed Properties in Maryland

Searching for unclaimed property in Maryland is generally a straightforward process. You can initiate your search through the Maryland Unclaimed Property Unit, which is a part of the state’s Comptroller’s Office. You will typically need details like your name and address to start your search on the Maryland Unclaimed Property official website. 

Driving Records

The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) allows individuals to access their driving records. To obtain your records in Maryland, you would typically have to complete a request form and pay the associated fee. These records can be requested online, in-person, or by mail, based on the service options provided by the MVA.

Civil Driving Infractions

In Maryland, traffic violations are typically categorized as either minor traffic violations or misdemeanors. The minor violations do not carry the risk of jail time, unlike misdemeanors which may involve more severe penalties, potentially including imprisonment.

Penalties for minor traffic violations can encompass fines and the addition of points on the individual’s driving record. Accruing a specific number of points within a designated period can lead to license suspension or revocation.

Common civil driving infractions in Maryland include:

  • Speeding
  • Running a red light or stop sign
  • Following too closely (tailgating)
  • Unsafe lane changes
  • Failure to wear a seatbelt

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Maryland is considered a serious offense and can be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony, contingent on the number of previous offenses and the specific circumstances of the arrest. Penalties might include hefty fines, incarceration, and the suspension or revocation of the driver’s license.

Maryland White Pages - Finding People, Addresses, and Other Public Records

Address Search ​

In Maryland, Reverse Address Lookups can aid in obtaining information on property ownership within the state. There are numerous platforms offering this service, permitting users to find property ownership details using the owner’s surname, the property address, or the parcel number. Some databases might impose restrictions on access based on various criteria such as membership.

Public records in Maryland, accessible according to the Maryland Public Information Act, allow individuals to request address information, given that they have a valid reason for the request or consent from the person concerned. However, there might be limitations regarding the utilization and dissemination of this information.

People Search​

People search services in Maryland offer a way to obtain insights into someone’s background. Several online platforms facilitate access to a range of public records, potentially providing basic details such as names, addresses, and phone numbers.

Can I Search By a Phone Number and Identify The Owner?

Yes, in Maryland, there are reverse phone lookup services available to help identify the owner of a specific phone number. These platforms can offer information tied to phone numbers, such as names, addresses, and sometimes even social media profiles or photos. A variety of methods exist for performing a reverse phone lookup, including using names, addresses, or other pertinent details.

License Plate Lookups in Maryland

Maryland law typically restricts the public’s access to driver’s personal information based solely on license plate numbers, except under specific conditions, similar to the general rule across states. If, however, you are involved in a situation like a hit-and-run, reporting the license plate number to law enforcement can aid in identifying the owner, but this information would not be disclosed to the public or the victim directly.

There exist third-party online services offering vehicle history reports using license plate numbers. They do this by associating the license plate with the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). While these services won’t provide personal details about the owner, they can offer insights into the vehicle’s history, such as its safety recalls, major repairs, and sales history, along with regions where the vehicle was previously registered or sold.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who and why can request public records?

In Maryland, the Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA) enables a broad array of individuals and entities, including private citizens, organizations, journalists, businesses, and academic researchers, to request public records. The overarching purpose of granting access to these public records is to foster transparency and accountability in government operations, hence facilitating a better understanding of governmental actions and decisions among the public.

Are there fees associated with requesting public records?

Yes, in Maryland, governmental agencies can impose reasonable fees to cater for the costs associated with the reproduction and preparation of the requested documents. These fees can vary significantly depending on the agency and the specific nature of the request. However, there exist scenarios where fee waivers or reductions might be applicable, such as for journalists or non-profit organizations working in the public interest.

Can I access public records for free?

While some public records may be readily available for free online as part of the state’s commitment to transparency, not all records are accessible in this manner. In cases where specific records are not found online, individuals may need to file a formal request through MPIA procedures, which may involve the incurrence of certain fees.

What is the response time for public records requests?

The response time for public records requests in Maryland varies depending on the complexity of the request and the agency handling it. Under MPIA, agencies are obligated to grant or deny the records request within a reasonable time, which should not exceed 30 days after the receipt of the request. More complex requests, particularly those necessitating the retrieval of numerous records or the execution of redactions, may necessitate a longer processing period.

Can my request be rejected?

Yes, in Maryland, there exist specific exemptions delineated in the MPIA that authorize the rejection of public records requests. Governmental bodies retain the prerogative to deny requests if the sought-after records encompass categories safeguarded from public exposure. These protections often cover aspects such as individual privacy, ongoing criminal investigations, matters of national security, privileged communications (like attorney-client privilege), and proprietary business information or trade secrets. If a request is denied, the government is required to state the reason for denial, and individuals have the right to seek a review of the denial decision.

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