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SEALING CRIMINAL RECORDS

Massachusetts Criminal Record Sealing Lawyer


Most people do not realize that anytime you are arraigned on a criminal charge, an entry has been made on your criminal record, also known as a Board of Probation record (BOP) or Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI).  These entries on your CORI appear regardless of how the case was resolved.  You do not need to be convicted to have entries on your CORI. 


If you have ever been arraigned of any crime in Massachusetts,  and especially if you have been convicted, you should know all your legal rights about who can access your CORI and you should seriously consider sealing your CORI. 


Having entries criminal record can cause you harm in many ways, often without your knowing it.  You may be passed over for employment for that other candidate who does not have any entries on his CORI; that school may deny your admission, again preferring that other equally qualified candidate with a clean CORI; or that landlord may opt to rent that apartment to the applicant with no criminal record. 


There are a myriad of ways having a CORI can hurt you, and absolutely no way having a CORI can help you.  Do you think that the decision-maker, be it a potential employer, admissions officer, landlord, or loan officer, is going to care that you were not actually convicted of the crime on your CORI?  Do you think that the decision-maker will give you a chance to explain? Or is the more likely scenario that someone else is chosen over you? 


Sealing your entire criminal record will help you avoid these embarrassing, harmful and unnecessary scenarios.  The Law Office of Dominic L. Pang can help you minimize the economic and social problems caused by a criminal record.  Contact our office today for a free consultation on having your record sealed.


IMPORTANT CHANGES TO THE SEALING STATUTES

The Massachusetts CORI Reform Bill was signed into law by the Governor on August 6, 2010.  The provision applicable to the sealing statutes, M.G.L. ch. 276, s.100A and 100C go into effect on May 4, 2012, and make important changes in how sealing is handled in Massachusetts.

Shortening of Waiting Periods For Sealing

Under the old version of the sealing statute, one of the conditions to seal an old felony or misdemeanor conviction under 276, 100A was that 15 or 10 years, respectively, had to have elapsed since the end of the probation of prison sentence before a person could move to seal his or her CORI. The new law shortens these waiting periods to 10 and 5 years for felonies and misdemeanors, respectively. In addition to satisfying the waiting period, the person must not have been found guilty of any criminal offense within the commonwealth in the case of a misdemeanor, 5 years before the request, and in the case of a felony, 10 years before request, except motor vehicle offenses in which the penalty does not exceed a fine of $50, and the charges sought to be sealed can not be violations of sections 121 to 131H, inclusive, of chapter 140 or for violations of chapter 268 or chapter 268A.


Dismissals After Probation Now Eligible for Sealing

Under the current version of s. 100C, dismissals that resulted after a period of probation are not eligible to be sealed. For example, a typical disposition of a Continuation Without a Finding (CWOF) that results in a dismissal upon successful completion of probation technically cannot be sealed under 100C. This currently leaves a petition filed under 100A, and it's applicable waiting periods, as the only way to seal a dismissal that followed a probationary period. The amended version of 100C, going into effect May 4, 2012, removes this restriction and dismissals that follow a probationary period can be sealed without having to wait for the applicable time period to elapse under 100A.


Violations of 209A Abuse Orders and 258E Harassment Order Are Considered Felonies for Sealing Purposes

While violations of 209A and 258E orders are misdemeanors for the purposes of sentencing, the new law considers convictions for these crimes as felonies for the purposes of sealing. This means that a person with a conviction of either of these crimes will have to wait 10 years, rather than 5 years, to seal a conviction for these charges.



The passage of the new CORI law means that many more past charges will become eligible for sealing, both because of the shortened waiting periods and lifting of the prohibition against 100C sealing when there has been probation imposed. Sealing is an area of the law that is largely misunderstood by both lay persons and legal professionals, and many misconceptions abound. The best way to determine if your record can be sealed is to contact an attorney with experience in the area.


ACCESS TO UNSEALED CORI




ACCESS TO SEALED RECORDS


What if your CORI has been sealed?


Under the old law CORI laws, criminal justice agencies were told that either, "At least 1 sealed record on file" (for sealed adult records) or "Sealed delinquency record over three years old" (for sealed juvenile records).  A court order was required for a criminal justice agency to look past the seal.  Under the new CORI laws, criminal justice agencies and firearms licensing authorities will be able to see past the seal without a court order. 


For all non-criminal justice agencies (parties required by statute to access CORI, potential employers, landlords, licensing boards, volunteer evaluators, the general public), a request for sealed CORI information is answered with "No record" for adult and juvenile records. Contrary to popular belief, these types of entities will NOT be told you have a record, but it was sealed.  By statute, they must be told that you have no record. 

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