A common question that I get asked is "how long will something show up on record?" Like many legal questions, the answer can be more complicated than you might expect. In Maine, criminal convictions are on your criminal record forever. There are no provisions for criminal convictions disappearing or being wiped away after a set number of years. A related concept is the look back period for enhanced criminal charges. You may have heard of an OUI with a prior offense, or a drug charge being aggravated because of prior convictions. The use of prior convictions to enhance subsequent charges is based upon the applicable statutory look back period. It is important to understand that a prior conviction remains on your record forever, even if it no longer falls within the look back period.
As an example, a person with a prior OUI conviction that is more than 10 years old, can no longer be subject to an enhanced charge because the prior is no longer within the look back period. However, the prior offense will still appear on your criminal record and is still a conviction that you would be required to disclose for certain job, housing or educational applications.
Speaking of criminal record disclosures, your legal obligation to disclose your criminal background will depend on the specific language of the disclosure request and the purpose of the requested disclosure. You should always consult with an experienced attorney when disclosing your criminal record. You never want to fail to provide information where there is a legal requirement that you do so; but, it is equally important to remember that there is never a reason to disclose information beyond the legal requirements.
Once again, consult your neighborhood defense attorney. He or she is the only person you'll find with a legal and ethical obligation to protect your rights.