Expungement in Massachusetts
There is no provision in Massachusetts for expungement of convictions. Some adult cases, such as those involving the dismissal or acquittal of criminal charges, are immediately sealed. Other adult records can be sealed after a waiting period of ten to fifteen years, as determined by the court. In Massachusetts, expungement allows a person to claim that no record ever existed. This includes stating so on job applications, as the record will not prevent you from getting hired. However, if a person is found guilty of a similar sentence, the probation officer will be given access to the expunged sentence. Not guilty verdicts, no bill verdicts, and no probable cause verdicts are exceptions to this rule.
Records for Children
Under Massachusetts Law 276-100B, juveniles must wait at least three years before their records can be sealed. To be eligible for sealing, a juvenile must not have received a delinquency adjudication or be convicted of any other crime during the three-year period. Once sealed, juvenile records cannot be used against the juvenile before or after he or she becomes an adult to disqualify him or her from seeking employment, but they can be used as prior offenses in future criminal proceedings. Juveniles can also be pardoned for crimes by the governor. After the governor has approved a pardon petition, he or she will request that all records relating to the offense be sealed. After being pardoned, the individual will be able to apply for employment, housing, credit, and financial aid. Except in a subsequent sentence, the pardoned records may not be used in a hearing before any board, agency, or commission.
Typically, records for offenses involving controlled substances cannot be sealed, even after the entire sentence has been served. Section 34 is concerned with the sealing of controlled substances records. When a crime is dismissed, acquitted, or indicted nolle prosses, the court will order the sealing of all official records pertaining to the indictment, arrest, conviction, discharge, or continuance. This gives the police and other law enforcement agencies access to the records but denies the public access for any reason. Section 258D allows for the expungement of specific erroneous felony offenses.
Any person with a record of dispositions and criminal court appearances may ask the commissioner to seal the file. This request will be granted if the individual’s record pertains to a misdemeanor that occurred ten or more years prior to the request; the individual’s record pertains to any felony that occurred fifteen or more years prior to the request; the individual has not been found guilty of another criminal offense within the previous ten years prior to the request—with the exception of motor vehicle offenses where the punishment was less than fifty dollars—the individual has not been convicted of a felony