Request to seal your criminal record
Office of the Commissioner of Probation
Boston Municipal Court Department and District Court Department
The Details of Request to seal your criminal record
What you need for Request to seal your criminal record
To seal your criminal record, you should file a petition to seal your record. If you're filing with the Boston Municipal Court (BMC), you can file 3 or more record dismissals and non-criminal court records from 2 or more BMC court divisions 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 to support your reason for sealing the record in your case. Things the court may consider when deciding whether or not to seal your record include:
- The particular disadvantage(s) caused because your criminal record is available
- Evidence of rehabilitation that suggests you could overcome these disadvantages if the record were sealed
- Any other evidence that sealing would help you overcome these disadvantage(s)
- Relevant circumstances to you when the offense happened that suggest a likelihood of recidivism (committing another offense) or success
- The amount of time passed since the offense and the end 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 — Please see the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) for more information.
- 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 in the court where the case started.
Fees for Request to seal your criminal record
There is no fee to request to seal your criminal record.
How to request Request to seal 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 info for 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.