There are 2 different types of expungement you can qualify for.
To get a time-based expungement, the offense must be one that qualifies for expungement under G.L. c.276, § 100E-100U. For an offense to qualify, it must meet all of these criteria:
- You have no more than 2 records (but multiple offenses arising out of the same incident are considered a single offense)
- The offense didn't result in death or serious bodily injury nor was the offense committed with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury
- The offense wasn't committed while armed with or carrying a dangerous weapon
- The offense wasn't committed against an elderly or disabled person
- The offense isn't a sex offense, a sex offense involving a child, or sexually violent offense
- The offense isn't Operating Under the Influence (of liquor or drugs)
- The offense isn't a firearms violation or a violation for illegal sale of a firearm
- The offense isn't a violation of any restraining or harassment prevention orders
- The offense isn't an assault or assault and battery on a household member; and
- The offense isn't a felony violation of G.L. c. 265
- 7 years
If the offense is a felony, you must have completed all parts of your sentence at least 7 years ago. If the offense is a misdemeanor, you must have completed all parts of your sentence at least 3 years ago.
Additionally, the law allows you to expunge a record if the record was created based on:
- False use of your identification
- Unauthorized use of your identity
- Theft of your identity
- Offense(s) that is/are no longer a crime (i.e. possessing small amounts of marijuana)
- Errors by law enforcement
- Errors by civilian or expert witness(es)
- Errors by court employees
- Fraud perpetrated upon the court
After your record is expunged, you can't be found guilty of perjury or of giving a false statement by not acknowledging your record if anyone inquires about it. You can say that you have no record after expungement.
Sealing conviction records
The conviction sealing process is governed by MGL c. 276, § 100A. You can ask the Massachusetts Probation Service (MPS) to seal some criminal convictions. You can ask to seal a criminal record under these circumstances:
Misdemeanor - 3 years after you were found guilty or after any jail or prison time, whichever date is later.
Felony - 7 years after you were found guilty or after any jail or prison time, whichever date is later.
Additionally, you can move to seal a conviction for resisting arrest.
Sealing records without convictions
The non-conviction sealing process is governed by MGL c. 276, § 100C. You can ask the court where the offense originated to request to seal a criminal court record without a conviction for the following case results:
Not guilty finding by a court or a jury
No bill returned by a grand jury (failure to indict)
No probable cause finding by a court
Dismissal without probation entered by a court
Nolle prosequi entered (entry on the record of no further prosecution by the prosecutor)
There are two types of criminal record checks in Massachusetts: a name-based criminal record check and a fingerprint-supported criminal record check.
A name-based criminal record check (CORI) returns information on available Massachusetts arraignments. This type of criminal record check is done by submitting the name and date of birth for a person. That information is then searched against Massachusetts court records to determine if there is a possible record for that person. This type of criminal record check contains only Massachusetts information and is not fingerprint supported.
A fingerprint-supported criminal record check returns information on arrests made in Massachusetts and possibly in other states. This type of criminal record check is done by matching the fingerprints of a person against fingerprints collected by Massachusetts and other states.
You, and other people, such as employers, can request your criminal record.
Request to seal your criminal record in person.
For criminal conviction records - File your paperwork with the MPS.
For cases without convictions in the District Court - File at the clerk's office of the District Court where the criminal case you want to seal started.
For cases without convictions in the BMC - File at the BMC court division where you live. If you don't live in the BMC territories anymore, file at the BMC court division where your most recent eligible criminal record is from.
More infofor Request to seal your criminal record
After you request to seal your record, there are different processes depending on where you filed.
District Court Department
If you filed in the District Court, a District Court judge will review your petition and any supporting documents. If the judge determines that you haven't met the requirements to request to seal your criminal record, the judge can deny the petition without a hearing, and you'll be told in writing. If the judge determines that you've met the requirements to request to seal your record, you'll be told by mail when a court hearing will be held. A copy of the notice will be posted on a court bulletin board for at least 7 days.
You should bring any documents or information (in addition to the ones you previously provided with your petition) that you want the court to consider to the hearing. At the hearing, you'll be able to tell the court why you think there is good cause to seal your record and how it outweighs the public's general right to access court documents and information. You may be represented by a lawyer at the hearing if you want. At the end of the hearing on your petition, the judge may issue a decision right away or may take the case under advisement, in which case you'll be told in writing about the final decision. The clerk's office will provide a copy of the signed order to you and the chief probation officer. If you disagree with the court's decision on your request to seal a criminal record, you can appeal the decision to the Massachusetts Appeals Court.
Boston Municipal Court
If you filed in the BMC, a judge may conduct a preliminary hearing to determine whether you've presented a prima facie case (a first review to see if you've met your legal requirements) for sealing your court record(s), or a judge may conduct the review based on your petition. If you don't meet the legal requirements, your request to seal will be denied.
If you meet the legal requirements, a final hearing will be scheduled. The clerk's office of the court division conducting the final hearing must post a public notice for at least 7 days that includes the date, time, and location of the final hearing. If you want to seal multiple court records, and you meet the legal requirements, the final hearing must be scheduled no earlier than 30 days but no later than 45 days from the preliminary hearing or when the petition is filed. You must send a copy of your petition to the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office at least 30 days before the scheduled final hearing. If you don't send the petition, and the District Attorney's Office hasn't waived the 30 days notice, then no criminal records from other court divisions will be sealed at the final hearing.
After the final hearing, if the judge approves your petition, the judge must make specific findings on the court record giving their reason(s) for allowing the record to be sealed. The clerk's office of the court that approves your petition must give a copy of the order approving your petition to the probation department and to each clerk's office with criminal case(s) listed on your petition. The Chief Probation Officer of the court that approves your petition will tell the MPS, who will then seal the record(s). If you disagree with the court's decision on your request to seal a criminal record, you can appeal the decision to the Massachusetts Appeals Court.
In my experience the process to seal or expunge a record can be as quick as 60 days and as long as 6 months.
Most Attorneys including myself offer free consultations. I think any criminal charge where there is a likelihood of incarceration mentioned on the Docket sheet warrants a consult with an Attorney.
Probation is a district Court sentence and Probation can be Supervised Probation or Unsupervised Probation. Parole is a Superior Court Sentence.
That is a decision that you and your attorney must decide. There are 2 types of trials. A jury trial and a bench trial. A bench trial is a trial before a judge.