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How to Seal My Criminal Record in Massachusetts

Posted on April 28, 2022 in

Sealing a criminal record in Massachusetts can have many benefits. With your criminal record showing up on even a simple background check, you may have a harder time finding housing or employment. Like all states, Massachusetts has a solution to help qualifying people clear their criminal records. If you are eligible, you may be able to have your criminal record sealed. Use these steps to carry out this process, and contact a Middlesex County motions to seal attorney if you need assistance. 

Determine Your Eligibility

The first step is determining whether you are eligible to have your record sealed under Massachusetts law. The eligibility requirements depend on whether your record contains a conviction. If so, Massachusetts General Law Section 276, 100A gives the following requirements to have the record sealed:

  • Misdemeanor crime: three years after being convicted or after the completion of any jail or prison sentence, whichever date comes later.
  • Felony crime: seven years after being convicted or after the completion of jail or prison time, whichever comes later.

If you were not convicted of a crime and wish to seal your record, your case must have ended in one of the following results:

  • A not-guilty court or jury verdict
  • Failure to indict (no bill returned by the jury)
  • A finding of no probable cause by the court
  • Continuance Without a Finding (CWOF)
  • Case dismissal without probation
  • An entry of nolle prosequi (no wish to prosecute) on the record by the prosecutor

If you are eligible to do so, having your criminal record sealed can benefit you in many ways. Although it will not erase your criminal record, it will seal it from view during a criminal offender record information (CORI) check – the standard background check used by employers – as well as deeper background checks. 

If you seal your criminal record in Massachusetts, a background check will not show any red flags. Instead, it will read, “No Adult Criminal Records on File.” This can make it easier to live your life without your criminal history haunting you.

Fill Out and Submit Your Petition

The next step is filling out your petition and filing it with the correct court. There are two different petitions – one for conviction records and one for non-conviction records. You can include any documentation that supports your reason for wanting the record sealed, as well, such as a disadvantage in the job market or other circumstances that you could overcome if you had your record sealed. It is also recommended – though not required – to include a copy of your criminal record.

Attend the Hearing

Depending on where you submit your request, you will be met with a different process. If you have filed in the District Court and a judge determines that you’ve met the requirements, you will receive a letter notifying you of when your court hearing will be held. If you filed in the Boston Municipal Court, a judge may conduct a preliminary hearing to determine if you’ve met the legal requirements. 

An attorney can help you prepare for either type of hearing or attend the hearing with you, if desired. If a judge determines that you are eligible to have your record sealed, the request will be approved. Otherwise, it will be denied – giving you or your lawyer the chance to appeal the court’s decision if you don’t agree.

Contact an Attorney for Legal Assistance Sealing Your Record

Due to recent CORI reform in Massachusetts, most misdemeanor convictions automatically disappear from CORI background checks after 5 years, and felony convictions after 10 years. However, it may still benefit you to go through the motions of having your criminal record sealed. This can clear your record sooner and help you start living your new life. If you need an attorney’s assistance in filing your Motion to Seal, contact Spring & Spring to start with a free consultation.