Request to seal your criminal record

Find out how to seal your criminal record and what paperwork you'll need to file.

Office of the Commissioner of Probation

The Details

What you need

To seal your criminal record, you should file a petition to seal your record. If you're filing with the Boston Municipal Court Department (BMCD), you can file 3 or more dismissals and non-criminal court records from 2 or more court divisions within the BMCD at once.

  • For criminal conviction records — Fill out the Petition to Seal Conviction Records form.
  • For cases without convictions — Fill out the Petition to Seal Non-Conviction Records form. You can also also include any documents you believe support your reason for sealing the record in your case. Factors the court may consider when deciding whether or not to seal your record include:
    • 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 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

It's also recommended but not required that you file:

  • A copy of your criminal record. 
    • Adult record — See how to get a copy of your own criminal record
    • Juvenile record — Fill out the Personal Massachusetts Juvenile Court Activity Record Information Request Form and send it to the Massachusetts Probation Service (MPS). 
  • A certified copy of the court docket of your offenses. You can get a copy of the court docket from the Criminal Clerk's Office where the case originated. 

How to request

Request to seal your criminal records in person at the appropriate court. 

  • For criminal conviction records — File 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 originated.
  • For cases without convictions in the BMCD — File at the BMCD court division where you live. If you no longer live in the BMCD territories, file at the BMCD court division of the most recent eligible criminal record. 

More info

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 preliminary legal standard, the judge can deny the petition without a hearing, and you'll be notified in writing. If the judge determines that you've met the preliminary legal standard for sealing the record, you'll be notified 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 those previously provided with your petition that you want the court to consider to the hearing. At the hearing, you'll be given the opportunity to tell the court why you think there is good cause to seal your record and how it outweighs the public’s general right of access to court documents and information. You may be represented by an attorney 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 notified in writing of the final decision. The clerk’s office will provide a copy of the signed order to you and to the chief probation officer. If you disagree with the court’s decision on your request to seal a criminal record, you may appeal the decision to the Massachusetts Appeals Court.

Boston Municipal Court Department

If you filed in the BMCD, 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 initial legal burden) for sealing your court record(s), or a judge may conduct the review based upon your petition. If you don't present a prima facie case, your request to seal will be denied.

If you present a prima facie case, 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 sets out the date, time, and location of the final hearing. If you want to seal multiple court records, and you present a prima facie case, the final hearing must be scheduled no earlier than 30 days but no later than 45 days from the preliminary hearing or the filing of the petition. You must send a copy of your petition to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office at 30 days before the scheduled final hearing. If you don't send the petition, and the District Attorney’s Office has not 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 his/her reason(s) for allowing the sealing. 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 notify 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 may appeal the decision to the Massachusetts Appeals Court.

Downloads

Contact

Address

1 Ashburton Place, Room 405, Boston, MA 02105

Fax

(617) 727-8483

Feedback

Tell us what you think