On July 31, 2010, the Massachusetts legislature adopted CORI reform. CORI means Criminal Offender Record Information. It is a person’s criminal history. In this article we will explore CORI reform in Massachusetts and cover the types of entries on a criminal record that are eligible to be sealed. Sealing a criminal record in Massachusetts can be difficult and should not be undertaken without having an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorney with you to guide you deftly though an often convoluted process. The successful sealing your record in Massachusetts means that you maintain and ensure that past court involvement stays confidential by prohibiting access to that information by potential employers, school officials, public housing authorities, and others.
If you have ever been charged with a crime in a state or federal court in Massachusetts, whether your case ended with or without a conviction, a verdict of not guilty, or the charges were thrown out or dismissed, you will still have a CORI in Massachusetts and that information is accessible to others. Under the old CORI law employers could ask about past criminal involvement right away on a job application and thereby limit the applicant pool for a particular job. Under the new CORI law, employers can’t ask up front on the first job application but may ask about it later in the application process and request that a potential employee make that information available. Successfully sealing your CORI can prevent such an intrusion into your privacy. Fortunately, the waiting periods for sealing felony and misdemeanor cases will been shortened soon to allow petitioners to request to seal a felony conviction after 10 years (previously 15 years) and a misdemeanor conviction after five years (previously 10 years). The reduction in these sealing periods and the other important sections of the CORI law become effective in May 2012. However, now is the time to get started by obtaining a copy of your CORI and contacting an experienced Boston criminal defense lawyer to help seal or expunge your Massachusetts criminal record.
The procedures for sealing criminal records are contained in Massachusetts G.L. c. 276, §§§ 100A, 100B and 100C. In certain cases, a Petition to Seal may be made directly to the Commissioner of Probation for those entries that are “aged out.” This means that all of your court appearances and court disposition records, including the termination of your probation or any sentence for any misdemeanor must have occurred not less than ten years prior to the filing of the Petition to Seal. It also requires that all of your court appearances and court disposition records, including the termination of your probation or any sentence for any felony must have occurred not less than fifteen years prior to the filing of the Petition to Seal. For Juvenile Delinquency court cases or dispositions, there is a three year waiting period before being allowed to file a Petition to Seal.
Petitions to Seal under G.L. c. 276, §§ 100A or 100B to seal older criminal or delinquency records are filed directly with the Commissioner of Probation in Massachusetts on an official petition form. Such petitions may not be submitted to a district court or municipal court judge where the matter arose.
For non aged-out cases, one must petition the court directly to seal the record of adult criminal and/or juvenile Massachusetts court appearances and dispositions by filing a Motion to seal criminal records under G.L. c. 276, § 100C, G.L. c. 94C, §§ 34 or 44, or St. 1973, c. 1102. If granted, the “PETITION TO SEAL RECORD OF ADULT CRIMINAL AND/OR JUVENILE MASSACHUSETTS COURT APPEARANCES AND DISPOSITIONS” form must be filled out and then signed by the judge. After public posting, it is forwarded to the Commissioner of Probation’s office for processing and sealing.
A judge may allow a petition to seal after a hearing if he or she finds that sealing is necessary to effectuate a compelling governmental interest. Therefore, an experienced Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer is needed to represent you throughout the process and to convince the court that there are compelling reasons to seal your record.
The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy, Esq. can provide experienced and effective legal representation for those individuals seeking to seal or expunge a criminal record and take advantage of the reformed CORI laws. Our Boston criminal law office is located at 11 Beacon Street, Suite 1210, Boston, MA 02109. You may contact Attorney Murphy by telephone at (617) 367-0450.