In Maryland, state records are readily accessible to the public, both in physical and electronic formats. However, many individuals encounter challenges when attempting to locate someone’s criminal records due to a lack of knowledge about where to initiate their search. This comprehensive guide aims to alleviate the difficulties associated with searching for free state records and public information in Maryland.

Click Here to Search this form:

Exploring Maryland State Records and Public Access

Criminal records in the United States are considered public information. Many states utilize third-party aggregate websites to facilitate access for interested individuals. Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), ordinary citizens possess the right to obtain and inspect records, except when restricted by law. In most states, criminal records can be obtained through trusted independent databases, visits to the state central repository, or consultation with local law enforcement.

The most recommended method for accessing these records is through third-party websites due to their user-friendly navigation. Many of these websites offer free searches, providing comprehensive information. Additionally, they typically include step-by-step instructions for ease of use. Interested parties should seek out reputable third-party aggregators, particularly paid search services that offer convenient access.

Maryland State Records and Public Information

Maryland enacted the Public Information Act in 1970, affording the public the right to access public records. The Public Information Act applies to all government branches within the state, including the executive, judiciary, and legislature. According to the Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA), criminal records in the state are classified as public records.

Several categories of records are available to the public in Maryland, including:

  • Vital Records: This category encompasses marriage, divorce, birth, and death certificates.
  • Court Records: Comprehensive court records are accessible to interested parties.
  • Criminal Records: Criminal records within Maryland are open to the public.
  • Inmate Case Records: To a certain extent, records pertaining to inmate cases are accessible.

However, specific records are exempt from disclosure or protected by law and, therefore, cannot be accessed. These include but are not limited to:

  • Financial information
  • Personnel records
  • Inmate case records under certain circumstances
  • Medical records
  • Attorney work products
  • Records containing attorney-client advice

Moreover, records that may be withheld comprise:

  • Intra- and inter-agency memoranda and letters
  • Investigatory records

To request access to public records, individuals should contact the respective record custodians, as listed by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office. Interested parties will need to complete a Public Information Act (PIA) request form to initiate the process.

Submitting a Public Record Request in Maryland

After filling out the form, they will submit the public record request to the responsible PIA representative.

Updating Maryland Criminal Records

The List provided by the office of the Attorney General is updated periodically.

Understanding Maryland Criminal Records

In the US, a criminal record is a document that contains criminal charges and their disposition, as well as records of arrest.

Components of a Maryland Criminal Record

A criminal record in Maryland includes:

  • A guilty verdict or plea
  • An arrest
  • The marking of a charge ‘stet’ on the docket (Inactive or put on hold indefinitely)
  • A plea of nolo contendere (accepting punishment but not accepting or denying charges)
  • A disposition of not criminally responsible
  • A disposition of probation before judgment

Evolution of Criminal Records in Maryland

Initially, the government collated criminal records to supervise and track offenders leaving prison who were not executed or transported abroad. As time passed, this purpose became more refined to include judicial and policing purposes.

Importance of Criminal Records in Maryland

Criminal records aid police investigations and allow courts to review a person’s conviction and offending history. They are also reviewed by non-governmental agencies such as employers.

Accessing Maryland Criminal Records

The main repository of criminal records in Maryland is the DPSCS. Interested parties can obtain these criminal records through various means, including:

  • Online governmental registries (e.g., the sex offender’s registry)
  • State criminal history repositories
  • Local police stations
  • Local courts
  • Clerk of the court offices
  • Third-party websites

Who Can Access Maryland Criminal Records?

Since Maryland classifies criminal records as public records, they are accessible to a wide range of interested parties, including:

  • Citizens
  • Corporations
  • Associations
  • Private individuals
  • Public interest groups
  • Universities

Searching Maryland Criminal Records Through Public Databases

Maryland state records and public information can be accessed remotely. To request information about someone charged with a crime, follow these steps:

  • Fill out the PIA request form
  • Submit it to the Maryland DPSCS

The DPSCS contains the Criminal Justice Information Repository of Maryland. The standard fee for searching criminal records is $18, and specific requirements must be met:

  • Submit a fingerprint record along with the fee
  • Obtain the Maryland fingerprint card, Form 011 (if living in Maryland)
  • Mail a request form to CJIS-CR to obtain the fingerprint card if not living in Maryland
  • Get fingerprinted at the local police station
  • Dispatch the fingerprint card and $18.00 to CJIS Central Repository

For obtaining records of a third party, provide the subject’s social security number, written consent, date of birth, full name, and a completed fingerprint card. Then fill out a government agency or private entity request form and submit the complete details to the record custodian.

Inaccuracies in Criminal Records

It’s Crucial to Recognize Errors in Criminal Records

Criminal records can sometimes contain inaccuracies, particularly when departments mix up individuals with similar names. If you spot an error in your record, follow the process below.

Obtaining Criminal Records

Challenges of Fingerprint-Based Searches

Accessing criminal records through fingerprint-based searches can be difficult. To obtain these records, contact the circuit court clerk in the court where the trial occurred.

Sealed Court Records

Understanding the Sealing of Court Records

In some cases, court records may be sealed, limiting public access. Learn about the process and conditions for sealing records.

Expungement in Maryland

Exploring Record Expungement in Maryland

Discover how the state handles record expungement, which may not necessarily mean the destruction of records but rather limiting public access.

Maryland Records Page

Accessing Criminal Records in Maryland

Find comprehensive information about agencies hosting criminal records and a list of law enforcement agencies providing inmate rosters on the Maryland Records Page.

Mugshots and Arrest Records

Understanding Mugshots and Arrest Records

Learn about the retention of arrest records, including mugshots, by public law enforcement agencies in the United States and their accessibility to the public.

Accessing Mugshots

Discover the process for accessing mugshots by obtaining arrest records and the responsible agencies at both state and local levels.

Juvenile Records in Maryland

Understand the confidentiality of juvenile records in Maryland and the circumstances under which they can be accessed, sealed, or expunged.

Checking for Warrants in Maryland

Learn about the challenges of checking for arrest warrants and the accessible methods, including bench warrants and the Maryland Judiciary Case Search.

How to Find a Criminal Warrant for Arrest

Utilizing Commercial Sites

When looking for a criminal warrant for arrest, individuals have the option to use third-party commercial websites. These sites offer a wide range of public records information without requiring sensitive personal details like social security numbers. However, it’s crucial to be aware that these sites can sometimes provide inaccurate information.

Contacting the Court Clerk

If you cannot find the information you need in the official database and suspect that a commissioner or judge has issued an arrest warrant, it’s advisable to reach out to the court clerk directly. You can maintain anonymity by inquiring about any outstanding warrants under a specific name without revealing your identity. The state’s official court directory provides contact information for all the courts in Maryland.

Consulting with an Attorney

Should you suspect that there is a warrant for your arrest, considering legal counsel is a wise move. An attorney can contact the police department or courthouse clerk on your behalf, safeguarding your client information under attorney/client privilege.

Using the Court’s Public Access Terminal through a Third Party

Maryland courts offer public access terminals for interested parties to search for court records. While these terminals do not require identity verification, it is prudent to send a third party to reduce the risk of being identified by a court official or police officer in case of an outstanding warrant.

Using the Maryland Sex Offender Registry to Safeguard Your Family

The state of Maryland offers a highly accessible and comprehensive sex offender registry website designed for public use. The Maryland Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services has created this registry with the primary goal of assisting citizens in protecting themselves, their families, and their loved ones from individuals with a history of criminal sexual behaviors.

Key Features of the Maryland Sex Offender Registry:

  • Easily Accessible: The registry website is user-friendly and readily accessible to the public.
  • Locate Offenders: Users can search for registered sex offenders residing or working in their vicinity, helping them stay informed about potential risks in their area.
  • Movement Notifications: The website offers movement notifications, keeping users updated on any changes in the status or location of registered sex offenders.
  • Resources for Prevention and Treatment: In addition to offender information, the website provides valuable resources to help individuals request assistance for preventing and addressing sexual abuse.
  • Contact Information: For further inquiries or assistance, individuals can reach out to the Maryland Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services at (410)-586-3600.

By utilizing the Maryland Sex Offender Registry, you can take proactive steps to ensure the safety and well-being of your family and loved ones.

Overview of Maryland Background Checks

In Maryland, businesses conduct background checks as part of their hiring process, adhering to federal and state laws, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The content of a background check varies, with a focus on educational, employment, and criminal information. Criminal history reports typically include details like date of arrest, case number, charges, disposition date, disposition, and sentence. Background checks cover a 7 to 10-year period, but certain information, like lawsuits and bankruptcy reports, has different timelines.

Eligibility for Background Checks

Background checks are not public information; they are safeguarded by the Criminal Justice Information System-Central Repository (CJIS). Access to this information requires proper authorization. Background checks are conducted not only for employment but also for acquiring firearms, changing residency, adoption applications, and government security clearance. Individuals can also request background checks on themselves for personal or professional reasons, with protections in place under the Code of Maryland Annotated Regulation (COMAR) and the Maryland Security and Privacy Act.

Conducting a Background Check in Maryland

To obtain a criminal history background check, individuals can apply through the Maryland DPSCS (Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services). The process involves submitting a private petition packet and a fingerprint card. However, these checks only reveal criminal history, not other credentials.

Avoid free background check websites, as they may provide outdated or inaccurate information. It’s recommended to use reputable, FCRA-compliant providers. DPSCS charges an $18.00 fee for the background report and an additional $20.00 for fingerprinting, with a processing time of 10 to 15 days.

For same-day state background checks, individuals must visit the CJIS location in person and provide valid documentation justifying the request. Self-background checks can be requested through the CJIS.

Conducting Background Checks for Firearms

Federal law requires licensed firearm dealers to conduct background checks before selling firearms. In Maryland, this can be done either through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) or the Secretary of the Maryland State Police. Reasons for disapproval may include mental illness. Private dealers without licenses must use licensed dealers for background checks.

Maryland Tenant Screening

Most landlords conduct tenant screening, which may include credit score, criminal history, and rental history checks. Reputable third-party screening services are recommended. Landlords can also run national or state criminal background checks.

Background Check for Adoption or Foster Care

Maryland mandates criminal history record checks for adoption agencies and foster parent homes. Applicants must provide fingerprints for a comprehensive background check, including reviewing local department records and state and criminal background checks.

Background Check for Security Clearance of a Government Agency

Some government agencies in Maryland require background checks as part of their application process. Applicants can obtain these checks either through federal or state channels.

Limitations and Legal Restrictions

Employers in Maryland are subject to various laws that restrict the use of an applicant’s criminal history during the hiring process. “Ban the Box” laws prevent the use of criminal history before the initial interview, and employers cannot consider expunged, pardoned, or sealed records. Credit history checks require a conditional offer and a valid job-related reason.

Maryland Court Records and Judiciary System

Maryland’s judiciary system consists of four tiers: District Court, Circuit Courts, Court of Special Appeals, and Court of Appeals. Each handles specific types of cases. Court records can be accessed physically at the clerk’s office or online through the Maryland Judiciary Search. Certain information may be kept private, and expungement is possible under specific conditions.

Checking Bankruptcy Filings

Individuals can check bankruptcy filings at the clerk’s office or through online resources provided by the Maryland Judiciary. Common reasons for bankruptcy include medical expenses, unemployment, consumer credit, and marital issues.

Understanding Bankruptcy: Debt Discharge and Payment Plans

Bankruptcy discharges debt and liquidates debtor assets to repay creditors. Alternatively, the court may devise a payment plan based on income and financial situation.

Importance of Checking Bankruptcy Records

Filing for bankruptcy is a significant decision with implications for various scenarios, including business partnerships, investments, and lending money.

Accessing Bankruptcy Information

Bankruptcy information is a public record in the US. The recommended method for accessing it is through the Public Access Electronic Records (PACER) system, provided by the United States District Court.

PACER Account and Fees

To use the PACER system, you need an account and must pay a fee to access bankruptcy court cases. Additionally, a compatible device and a stable internet connection are required for online searches.

Requesting Records from Courthouse Clerk’s Office

Alternatively, you can request bankruptcy records from the Courthouse Clerk’s office by filling out a copy work request form. The office provides exemplified or certified records and informs you of associated costs.

Toll-Free Number for Closed Cases

Another option is to call a toll-free number connected to an automated system, where you can access closed bankruptcy cases through the National Archives.

Maryland Inmate Records Overview

The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) oversees 18 prisons, 12 juvenile detention facilities, and federal prisons in the state.

Inmate Record Details

Inmate records include information such as date of birth, gender, race, hair and eye color, date of incarceration, case file number, booking number, current location, and status. These records are available to the public in compliance with the PIA.

Finding Jail Inmates and Recent Arrest Records in Maryland

To locate inmates in Maryland’s state prisons, visit the official DPSCS website. They provide an inmate look-up tool for finding individuals in various correctional facilities, along with housing locations.

Using the Inmate Locator

To use the inmate locator, enter the subject’s first and last name. For shared names, include additional personal details like physical description and date of incarceration. The locator also provides mugshots and additional verification information.

How to Search for Inmates in Third-Party Websites

To find an inmate through a third-party website, follow these steps:

  • Provide Subject’s Name: The requester must provide the name of the subject they are searching for.
  • Specify Location: Additionally, the requester might need to provide a rough location, such as the state, county, or city.

Sending Money to Inmates via DPSCS Lockbox Service

The DPSCS (Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services) allows public members to send money to inmates using the lockbox service.

Searching for State and federal Prison Inmates in Maryland

For locating prisoners in federal prisons or camps in Maryland, use the following methods:

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Website

Visit the FBI website, where you can utilize the FBI prisoner locator tool for your search.

    • Search by Name: Provide the correct names of the subject and specific personal information for a search.
    • Search by Number: For more precision, provide the number on the FBI prisoner ID of the inmate.

County Jail Inmate Search

    • To search for inmates in county jails, refer to the sheriff’s department of the specific county.
    • These departments manage inmate records and maintain online jail rosters and inmate lists that are regularly updated.


How can I search for free Maryland state marriage records?

You can search for free Maryland state marriage records by visiting the official website of the Maryland Department of Health and utilizing their online marriage records search tool. This tool allows you to search for marriage records by providing the names of the individuals and the date of the marriage.

How do I access free Maryland state divorce records?

To access free Maryland state divorce records, you can contact the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office in the county where the divorce was filed. They maintain divorce records, and you can request access to these records in person or through their online services.

Can I search for outstanding warrants in Maryland for free?

Yes, you can search for outstanding warrants in Maryland for free through the Maryland Judiciary Case Search website. This online database allows you to search for warrant information by providing the name of the individual you are inquiring about.

How can I obtain free Maryland state criminal records?

You can obtain free Maryland state criminal records by using the Maryland Judiciary Case Search website. This online portal provides access to criminal case records, including information on arrests and convictions. You can search for records by the name of the person involved.

Are there any fees associated with accessing Maryland state records online?

While many Maryland state records can be accessed online for free, there may be fees for obtaining certified copies of certain records or for more extensive research services. It’s advisable to check the specific agency or website you’re using for any associated fees and payment options.