WHAT IS SEALING?
One of the questions that we are frequently asked is how clients can hide their criminal record or CORI from future employers, landlords, or anyone else inclined to look. In Massachusetts, unlike many other states, there is a sealing statute rather than an expungement statute. Sealing is governed by MGL c. 276, s. 100A, and does two things for the client. 1) It removes the file from the court Clerk's office so it is no longer available to the public, and 2) it allows the client to say that they have no criminal record when asked. This means that unlike expungement, the record still exists. It is simply no longer available in a search.
AM I ELIGIBLE TO SEAL MY RECORD?
Depending on whether your case ended in a conviction or not, your eligibility standards will differ.
For cases that ended in dismissal, CWOF, Nolle Prosequi, or not guilty, sealing is immediately available through a court petition system. This process involves a petition filed with the court and supported by an affidavit. The petition is then posted in the courthouse for a seven (7) day public posting period in order to give the public the opportunity to object. Finally, the court will schedule a hearing before a judge where you must argue for why the case should be sealed. There are many factors that go into potential success sealing a record in court, and our experienced attorneys can review the facts of your case and advise you on the best approach.
For cases that ended in conviction, there is a mandatory waiting period that is calculated from the date of disposition or the date that you were released from incarceration, whichever is later. These sealings are completed by submitting a form to the Commissioner of Probation. Misdemeanor charges require a 5 year waiting period, and Felony charges require a 10 year waiting period.
It is important to remember that your eligibility is based on your most recent charges, so you have to meet the time requirements for your most recent charges before you can seal any of your charges through the Commissioner of Probation.
WILL SEALING HELP?
There is no downside to sealing your record, but it may not solve all of your problems. Sealing your criminal record only hides your record from people using the CORI database to search. This means that if the employer or landlord is using a private background check company to do the search, your record may still be available.
If you would like to speak about your case and get an expert opinion, please call or text us at any time. We will listen to the facts of your case, address your concerns and let you know what your options are.
The initial consultation is free and there is no pressure to hire. If you choose to hire us, we will give you a reasonable quote and we can discuss payment options.