The first thing we advise is to obtain a copy of your criminal record (CORI) or of the docket sheet from all of your criminal cases, and the second is to hire an experienced attorney to represent you throughout the process. The docket sheet from your case and your criminal record are important because each will state the disposition of your case and how long ago the case ended.
Depending on how your case was resolved, there are different laws that apply to whether and when you can apply to have your record sealed. Recently, many of these laws have changed.
At Sweeney & Associates, LLC, our Quincy criminal lawyers often receive questions regarding whether or not a person can seal his or her criminal record. In Massachusetts, the law does not allow you to expunge your record, but you can seal it.
Expungement vs Sealing Your Record
- Expungement - your record is cleared and removed from all databases.
- Sealing your record - public and most employers can no longer access to it.
Once your record is sealed, if a member of the public were to contact the court or an employer were to run your criminal record, then he/she would be told you have no record. Certain entities, however, will still have access to your sealed record, including the police, probation officers, courts, and certain other entities.
Our criminal defense attorneys in Quincy have helped people in Quincy, Canton, Greater Boston and throughout Massachusetts seal their criminal records for over 15 years. We will guide you through the process and work diligently to achieve your best possible outcome in a timely and effective manner.
Process for Sealing a Criminal Record
The process for sealing a criminal record has been streamlined and is much quicker than it used to be. Once we have seen your criminal record or a copy of the docket sheet from your criminal case, then we can determine whether we will need to file a petition to seal your record in court or whether we only need to submit a form to the Commissioner of Probation.
In some cases, we need to go to court to seal your record. In that instance, we will file a petition to seal and an affidavit explaining the reason why with the court. \The clerk's office will post a notice in the courthouse for seven days that informs the public that you want to seal your record and will also notify the district attorney's office and Probation Department that you want to seal your record. You will then receive a notice in the mail of a date and time to appear for a hearing.
At the hearing, your attorney will explain to the judge why your record should be sealed. The district attorney's office, Probation Department and members of the public including the victim of your crime can also tell the judge why they think your record should not be sealed. The judge will then make a decision. If the judge determines you have a good reason, then your record will be sealed.
Recent Changes to Criminal Record Sealing Laws
You can immediately request your record be sealed after the case is officially closed if your case was disposed in the following ways:
- Continued without a finding
- Pretrial probation
- Nolle prosequi (similar to dismissal)
In these instances, we would file a petition to seal and an affidavit from you explaining why your criminal record is affecting your day-to-day life. We find that most clients want to seal their record because they are having problems finding employment, are being looked over for promotions, and are unable to obtain financial aid or enroll in certain educational programs. It is ultimately up to the judge whether to seal your record. If the judge finds good cause, i.e. a good reason, to seal your record, then your record will be sealed.
The benefit of hiring Sweeney and Associates, LLC, is that we have successfully sealed clients' records, and are very familiar with not only the process of preparing and filing the appropriate documents, but also with what information we need to provide to the court so that your record will be sealed.
Guilty pleas to misdemeanors and felonies can be sealed by submitting a form to the Office of the Commissioner of Probation after waiting a certain period of time. These sealing laws have also changed:
- If you were convicted of a misdemeanor, you can request your record be sealed after five years. Previously you had to wait 10 years.
- If you plead guilty or were convicted of a felony, you can request your record be sealed after 10 years. Previously you had to wait 15 years.
- If you plead guilty or were convicted of certain sex offenses, you will be required to wait 15 years before you can seal your record. Based on the type of sexual offense and your registration level with SORB, you may be ineligible to request your record be sealed.
- There are also certain offenses such as witness intimidation which cannot be sealed.
The calculation for the waiting period begins to run when you are released from incarceration, or if you were not incarcerated, then upon the disposition of your case (end of probation).
Under this law, we submit an application directly to the Commissioner of Probation to seal your record instead of needing to go to court and ask a judge to seal your record.
Call for a Free, Confidential Consultation
We will build a case showing the court why it is so important that your record be sealed. Hiring an experienced attorney in sealing criminal records can make the difference in whether the court will allow you to seal your record.
Please contact us online or call us at (617) 300-0212 to speak with one of our lawyers at your earliest convenience. We offer fixed and hourly billing rates, accept all major credit cards, and are attentive to all your legal needs.
Free Case Evaluation
Sweeney & Associates, LLC is proud to offer prospective clients a complimentary
initial case evaluation. We understand that every case is unique and will take this
time to get to know the details of your situation and begin discussing your legal
options for achieving the best possible outcome. As we understand that the reputation
of you and your family is at stake, this consultation is completely confidential.
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