Massachusetts state law generally does not allow a person to have a criminal conviction expunged. Instead, its statutes provide that criminal records may be sealed under given circumstances.
If a conviction has been expunged, it is effectively erased and it is as if the person never committed the crime. Massachusetts does provide for expungement only in certain felony cases that resulted in an erroneous ruling.
On the other hand, a record that has been sealed still contains the conviction but it is no longer accessible or viewable by the general public. Sealed records cannot be obtained except in very limited situations.
In Massachusetts, adult records may be sealed if:
The defendant’s criminal charges have been dismissed
The defendant was found not guilty
Either 10 or 15 years have passed since the conviction (depending on the type of crime)
The defendant has been pardoned
Persons who have a juvenile criminal record may have such records sealed if it has been at least 3 years since the conviction. Additionally, during the three years since the conviction, the defendant must be free from any other criminal activity resulting in a finding of delinquency or guilt. Sealed juvenile records may be used in hearings for future offenses, but they cannot be made available for public employment purposes.
If you wish to have your records sealed in the state of Massachusetts, you must file a request in writing with the Massachusetts Commissioner of Probation. After receiving your request, an analysis will follow to determine whether you are eligible to have your records sealed. Criminal records are maintained by the Massachusetts department known as Criminal Offender Record Information or “CORI”.