Changes in the Law
It is often advantageous to have a criminal record, a.k.a. CORI, sealed, in order to obtain housing, higher education or employment. There have been recent changes to Massachusetts’ laws regarding the sealing of a CORI. Those changes do not take effect until May 4, 2012. Until that time, requests for a sealing of a CORI are dealt with under the old law, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 276 § 100A. Under this law, there are three hurdles to overcome in getting a CORI sealed.
1. Do Not Be Convicted of a “Bad” Crime
According to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 276 § 100A, not all convictions can be sealed. The state legislature considers some convictions to be so heinous that the convictions must be forever available to the public. These convictions are violations of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140 § § 121-13 1H, which are crimes relating to firearms (e.g., selling ammunition without a license or buying a gun from an unlicensed seller); Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 268, which are crimes against public justice (e.g., perjury or escaping or aiding an escape from prison); Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 268A, which are conflict-of-interest violations, (e.g., when a state employee for his agency buys equipment from the employee’s private business). These convictions cannot be sealed and will remain on a CORI.
2. Be Crime Free
In order to request the sealing of a CORI, the petitioner must not have a conviction for anything more than $50 motor vehicle offense within ten years of the request. In other words, a person has to be nearly “crime free” for ten years before he can fill out the form.
3. Properly Aged Crimes
The final hurdle is that the convictions must be old enough. In order to be sealed, a misdemeanor must be at least ten years old and a felony must be fifteen years old. This period is measure from the final disposition of the case, which is the last day of probation, prison, or parole. If the petitioner can clear all three hurdles, than he can fill out and file the request. Once that it done, a hearing will be called to evaluate the request. If approved by the court, the convictions listed on the CORI can then be sealed.