Everyone can make mistakes and get caught up in legal trouble. While it
is important to learn from past mishaps and avoid doing them again, it
is equally important to not let them hinder our progress and future opportunities.
Unfortunately, a single conviction of a criminal violation can often strip
people of their chances to land good jobs or pursue their advanced education.
In Massachusetts, there is a way to try to clear up what has happened and
get a fresh start. By using what is known as
expungement, people can seal their criminal records from the general public, making
the conviction record more or less invisible. If you have a conviction
expunged, you can legally behave as if it never existed in the first place,
meaning you can answer “no” to the frequently-occurring interview
question, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?”
How to Seal a Conviction in Massachusetts
Before you can begin the process, you need to know if your conviction is
eligible for sealing or expungement at all. Some things can be sealed
right away, such as a dismissal, acquittal, or first-time drug possession charges.
Waiting periods exist for other forms of convictions, though:
- 3 years for juvenile crimes
- 5 years for misdemeanors
- 10 years for felonies
Usually the waiting period will not begin until probation ends. Additionally,
some criminal convictions will never be eligible for sealing, such as
most sex crimes and weapon-related charges.
If your record can be expunged, you will need to obtain a Criminal Offender
Record Information (CORI) report and complete it, citing all names and
aliases you go by. You will also have to complete a petition to seal your
record. Both of these forms require fees to be paid to the government,
as well as a careful eye for detail. One mistake could render your application
void and you will have to start over again without refund.
Do you think you need help with your expungement or record sealing process?
It is better to be safe than sorry, after all.
Contact our Quincy criminal defense attorneys at South Shore Criminal Defense today. We have successfully represented
thousands of clients in our years of practice, and offer
free initial consultations to inquiring parties. Call
617.420.2716 today if you live in the greater Boston area and need legal support –
we also serve Brockton!