Record Sealing


 Massachusetts CORI Record Sealing Attorney


If you can do it, sealing your record is nearly always a good idea. If your record is sealed and you apply for most jobs or housing, then the sealed record will not appear on your CORI report. Sealing your record will not arouse suspicion or create a "red flag". If all your cases are sealed, the CORI will say "No Adult Criminal Records on File". It will not show that you have sealed records on file. Also, if your cases are sealed, Massachusetts law says you can answer "no record" if an employer asks if you have a criminal record.



Police and other law enforcement agencies will be able to see that you have at least one sealed record on file. They can ask the court to unseal the record. Other than the police and law enforcement agencies, only a very few places (such as the Department of Youth Services and the Department of Social Services) will be able to see that you have sealed records.



How do I seal my criminal records?



1. Convictions (guilty plea finding or guilty verdict)


Massachusetts law allows criminal records to be sealed after a waiting period:



 Misdemeanors may be sealed after a waiting period of 5 years; Feloniesmay be sealed after a waiting period of 10 years.A petition and motion must be filed, the court may require a hearing on the petition. You must argue that there would be a "specific harm" to you if the record is not sealed. (ie.) lost job.  



2. Dismissed, Not Guilty and Nol pros, or Nolle prosequi.


You can ask to have your case sealed right away - you do not have to wait -if your case ended:


  • with a dismissal,
  • a not guilty finding,
  • a "“no probable cause" finding,
  • or the prosecutor does not wish to prosecute the case, (called a 'nolle prosequi' or ' nol pros'),
  • and you were not on probation.


If you were on probation you cannot ask a judge to seal your case, even if it was dismissed. Cases with probation have the same waiting periods and sealing process as convictions.



3.  Continued without a finding (CWOF)

  Continuances without a finding will be treated as dismissals once they are dismissed, but not during the period pending that dismissal. Unitl the date of dismissal, a continuance without a finding is subject to dissemination.


4. Misdemeanor drug possession offenses


Certain misdemeanor drug possession offenses can be sealed without the 5 year waiting period. Courts may seal a conviction for a first offense of possession of a controlled substance. Courts shall seal a first conviction of possession of marijuana or a class E substance. Courts also shall seal a record where a person was found not guilty of possession of a controlled substance, or the case was dismissed or ended with a nolle prosequi (or nol pros). A nolle prosequi is the prosecutor’s statement that she does not wish to prosecute the case.



5. Juvenile Records


Juvenile or delinquency records can be sealed after a three year waiting period. A juvenile is a person between the ages of 7 and 17 years. If a child was charged with a crime in Juvenile Court, there will be a juvenile criminal record. In some very serious cases, a child age 14 or older may be tried as an adult, in adult court. If the case was tried in the adult District or Superior Court, then there is an adult CORI, not a juvenile record.
As with adult conviction records, the waiting period to seal juvenile records begins at the "final disposition" of the case. The final disposition is when:



  • The case ended in Juvenile Court,
  • When probation ended, or
  • When a person is released from DYS custody, whichever is latest.




The waiting period to seal each case begins at the "final disposition" of that case.


The final disposition is when:


  • the case ended in court,
  • when probation ended, or
  • when a person is released from prison or parole -- whichever is latest.


For instance, if your sentence in a case was probation, the date you finished probation is the date of final disposition. The waiting period begins after your probation has ended. If you have more than one conviction, the waiting period to seal your record starts with the final disposition of the newest conviction. You can not seal your CORI (even if 10 or 15 years have passed) if you have been convicted for anything (except for certain minor traffic offenses) in the 10 years before you ask to seal your record. This rule affects people who have more than one conviction on their CORIs.




What needs to be proved in court to seal a record?


At a records sealing hearing, you need to explain your record and try to convince the judge of three things:


  1. That there is a "compelling government interest" in sealing the records (for instance, it benefits the state if you can get a job, housing, or other services).
  2. That this compelling government interest is greater than the First Amendment interest of the public to be able to see court records.
  3. That it is in the interest of fairness or substantial justice to seal your record.




Contact an expert CORI record sealing Attorney



At the Law Offices of Michael R. St. Louis, we are fully prepared to handle your record sealing case.  As a leading Boston criminal defense law firm, we can provide you with the direction and legal counsel you need to win your case. Call our Law Offices today for your free consultation at 781-816-3950 or contact us online.



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Attorney at Law