The new CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) act went into effect on May 5, 2012. The types of cases available for sealing are as follows: 1) Non-convictions: One must petition the court directly, however there is no waiting period. Cases such as acquittal at trial, no probable cause, a dismissal and CWOF (continued without a finding). Note however that no sealing may take place on CWOF until the case is actually dismissed. Pending cases can be disseminated until dismissed. Also, its important to note that the court will not seal the record unless "substantial justice" is served. In other words, the defendant must show the court that they will suffer a specific harm if the case is not sealed.
The procedure is to submit a single petition along with a motion and affidavit that must be publicly posted at the court. The court will likely allow a hearing under M.G.L. c. 276 Section 100C. 2) Convictions: Under the new law, the waiting period for misdemeanor convictions has been reduced from 10 years to 5 years. The waiting period for felony convictions has been reduced from 15 years to 10 years. The time for sealing now begins for those incarcerated when they are released, or if no incarceration the time begins on the date of disposition. The procedure is to submit a petition available at ( www.mass.gov/courts/probation/sealingpetitionl.pdf) to the office of Commissioner of Probation purusant to M.G.L. c 276 Section 100A. Agencies that have access to sealed records:
1) Law enforcement agencies 2) Municipalities for licensing and housing purposes only 3) Court - "In camera" view only for domestic abuse cases
Note, that employers are barred from asking a job applicant on an initial application whether they have a criminal record. After the initial job application, such as at a job interview employers can ask you if you have ever been arrested or ever convicted of a crime. However, the employer must give the applicant a copy of his/her criminal record before asking these questions.
1) Sex offenders are eligible for sealing after 15 years following final disposition or incarceration if he/she has no duty to register as a sex offender; and he/she was never classificed as a Level 2 and Level 3 offender.
2) Convictions for perjury, witness intimidation, false reports, escape from custody and resisting arrest, public corruption and certain firemarm convictions can never be sealed.