Opinions and Legal Insights

What a sealed record means in Massachusetts?

Criminal records have a way of following people, making it more difficult to secure employment or many other public benefits such as public housing. The fact is: most employers do not hire people with criminal records. Parents may face issues participating in parental involvement at their children’s schools as a result of an unsealed record.

Sealing your criminal record essentially makes it less accessible. Most employers and landlords will not be able to access it when the do a run-of-the-mill CORI check. You can legally tell employers that you have no record. You can get your record sealed either by mail or in court, depending on the outcome of the case. It is of note that when one of these parties looks up your CORI, it will not say that your record is sealed. It will simply not show your sealed records. This presents an incredible opportunity for a second chance. Your charges do not have to follow you around for the rest of your life, and we can help you seal them.

Sealing a conviction

Most cases allow for you to simply mail in a form to the Commissioner of Probation after waiting a certain period of time. For a misdemeanor, this period is three years, and for a felony, seven years. Convictions can only be sealed in this manner, with the exclusion of a first-time drug possession conviction which can also be sealed in court. If you were found guilty the period starts running from the date the verdict was found. If you were incarcerated after a guilty finding, the period starts running from the date you were released from prison. Convictions for violations of abuse prevention or harassment prevention, as well as convictions for sex offenses, are exceptions and carry longer waiting periods than other felonies.

Some convictions cannot be sealed. These include certain firearm offenses, crimes against the public, Ethics Act violation, or certain crimes if you are a registered sex offender. Individuals charged with possession of marijuana can now seal their records or expunge them in certain cases. Contact us to evaluate which option is better for you.

Other dispositions

Many people don’t realize that even if the case did not end in a conviction, they have a criminal record. If a case was dismissed, ended in a “not guilty” finding, or it was dropped by the prosecutor, the case can be sealed in court by a judge, with no waiting period attached. This also applies to the aforementioned first-time drug possession charge as long as the defendant followed the terms of their probation. Those whose cases result in these findings also have the option of sealing their record by mail after following the prescribed waiting period.

There are a few types of employers and agencies that can access information about your sealed record. This includes: The Department of Early Education and Care, The Department of Children and Families, The Department of Youth Services, and Criminal Justice agencies. This is a concern only when you are applying to work as a daycare working, trying to become a foster parent, or when you are convicted of a subsequent crime.

Altman and Altman LLP has been helping people charged with crimes for over 40 years. We work closely with our clients and see the very real way these records can follow them long after their case is resolved. People make mistakes, but we believe people deserve a second chance. The effort to seal your record may be more complicated if you are not a U.S. citizen or if you have other charges pending against you.

We are available to speak with you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us online or call 617.492.3000 or 800.481.6199 (toll free) to request your free consultation with Altman & Altman LLP. We are available to our clients after hours and on weekends. Our Boston, Massachusetts criminal defense law firm represents clients in the Greater Boston area and throughout Massachusetts.