If you have a criminal record in Massachusetts, any potential employer can see it, even if it was dismissed or you were found not guilty. This can make it difficult for you to secure employment and can be a black mark for a variety of other reasons.
Fortunately, you can seal your record (CORI) through a petition with the Court. While you can do this yourself, it often helps to get a lawyer.
How Long Do I Have to Wait to Seal My Criminal Record?
It depends on what happened with your case.
If your case was dismissed or you were found not guilty, you can file immediately to get your record sealed. Keep in mind that if you received a continuance without a finding (CWOF), you will be able to seal your CORI once the case is over and dismissed. If you never appeared before a judge (arraigned), you have no record.
If you were found guilty, pled guilty, or were convicted in some way, it depends on what the underlying offense was. If it was a misdemeanor, you will have to wait three (3) years. If it was a felony, you must wait seven (7) years. If you served time in jail or prison, the time will start running once you’re released.
There are exceptions to this time limit for certain offenses. Violation of a harassment or restraining order has a 10 year waiting period, and sex offenses have a 15-year waiting period.
If you were convicted of anything else since your conviction, you will have to wait for the waiting period again.
Can I Seal Any Criminal Offense?
No. Some criminal offenses are NOT eligible for sealing under any circumstances. These are intimidation of a witness and perjury. Resisting arrest is eligible for CORI sealing after October 2018.
What if an Employer Asks about a Sealed Record?
If your record was sealed, you can legally answer that you have no criminal record, even if you were convicted and the record was sealed later.
How Do I Get My Criminal Record Sealed?
If you’re eligible to have your CORI sealed, you or an attorney could file a petition with the court or send in a request by mail. You should submit any information you think could be relevant, including:
- The particular disadvantage(s) caused by the availability of the criminal record
- Evidence of rehabilitation suggesting you could overcome these disadvantages if the record were sealed
- Any other evidence that sealing would help you overcome the identified disadvantage(s)
- Relevant circumstances to you at the time of the offense that suggest a likelihood of recidivism (committing another offense) or success
- The amount of time passed since the offense and the conclusion of the criminal case
- The nature of and reasons for the particular disposition of the criminal case
You will likely have to appear before a judge, so it would be helpful to have an attorney who can help, although it is something you can do yourself.
If you believe you could be eligible to have your record sealed, contact a Massachusetts attorney to explore your options. As always, I’d be glad to help. Contact me, and let’s get started giving you a fresh start. My phone number is 617-356-8217.