- Amended by St.1974, c. 525
- Amended by St.1975, c. 278
- Amended by St.2010, c. 256, §§ 128 to 130
- Amended by St.2018, c. 69, §§ 186 to 192, effective October 13, 2018
Any person having a record of criminal court appearances and dispositions in the commonwealth on file with the office of the commissioner of probation may, on a form furnished by the commissioner and signed under the penalties of perjury, request that the commissioner seal the file. The commissioner shall comply with the request provided that: (1) the person's court appearance and court disposition records, including any period of incarceration or custody for any misdemeanor record to be sealed occurred not less than 3 years before the request; (2) the person's court appearance and court disposition records, including any period of incarceration or custody for any felony record to be sealed occurred not less than 7 years before the request; (3) the person had not been found guilty of any criminal offense within the commonwealth in the case of a misdemeanor, 3 years before the request, and in the case of a felony, 7 years before request, except motor vehicle offenses in which the penalty does not exceed a fine of $50; (4) the form includes a statement by the petitioner that he has not been convicted of any criminal offense in any other state, United States possession or in a court of federal jurisdiction, except such motor vehicle offenses, as aforesaid, and has not been imprisoned in any state or county in the case of a misdemeanor, within the preceding 3 years, and in the case of a felony, within the preceding 7 years; and (5) the person's record does not include convictions of offenses other than those to which this section applies. This section shall apply to court appearances and dispositions of all offenses; provided, however, that this section shall not apply in case of convictions for violations of sections 121 to 131H, inclusive, of chapter 140 or for violations of chapter 268 or chapter 268A, except for convictions for resisting arrest.
In carrying out the provisions of this section, notwithstanding any laws to the contrary:
- Any recorded offense which was a felony when committed and has since become a misdemeanor shall be treated as a misdemeanor.
- Any recorded offense which is no longer a crime shall be eligible for sealing forthwith, except in cases where the elements of the offense continue to be a crime under a different designation.
- In determining the period for eligibility, any subsequently recorded offenses for which the dispositions are “not guilty”, “dismissed for want of prosecution”, “dismissed at request of complainant”, “nol prossed”, or “no bill” shall not be held to interrupt the running of the required period for eligibility.
- If it cannot be ascertained that a recorded offense was a felony when committed said offense shall be treated as a misdemeanor.
- Any violation of section 7 of chapter 209A or section 9 of chapter 258E shall be treated as a felony.
- Sex offenses, as defined in section 178C of chapter 6, shall not be eligible for sealing for 15 years following their disposition, including termination of supervision, probation or any period of incarceration, or for so long as the offender is under a duty to register in the commonwealth or in any other state where the offender resides or would be under such a duty if residing in the commonwealth, whichever is longer; provided, however, that any sex offender who has at any time been classified as a level 2 or level 3 sex offender, pursuant to section 178K of chapter 6, shall not be eligible for sealing of sex offenses.
When records of criminal appearances and criminal dispositions are sealed by the commissioner in his files, he shall notify forthwith the clerk and the probation officer of the courts in which the convictions or dispositions have occurred, or other entries have been made, of such sealing, and said clerks and probation officers likewise shall seal records of the same proceedings in their files.
Such sealed records shall not operate to disqualify a person in any examination, appointment or application for public service in the service of the commonwealth or of any political subdivision thereof; nor shall such sealed records be admissible in evidence or used in any way in any court proceedings or hearings before any boards or commissions, except in imposing sentence in subsequent criminal proceedings, and except that in any proceedings under sections 1 to 39I, inclusive, of chapter 119, sections 2 to 5, inclusive, of chapter 201, chapters 208, 209, 209A, 209B, 209C, or sections 1 to 11A, inclusive, of chapter 210, a party having reasonable cause to believe that information in a sealed criminal record of another party may be relevant to (1) an issue of custody or visitation of a child, (2) abuse, as defined in section 1 of chapter 209A or (3) the safety of any person may upon motion seek to introduce the sealed record into evidence. The judge shall first review such records in camera and determine those records that are potentially relevant and admissible. The judge shall then conduct a closed hearing on the admissibility of those records determined to be potentially admissible; provided, however, that such records shall not be discussed in open court and, if admitted, shall be impounded and made available only to the parties, their attorneys and court personnel who have a demonstrated need to receive them.
An application used to screen applicants for employment, housing or an occupational or professional license which seeks information concerning prior arrests or convictions of the applicant shall include the following statement: “An applicant for employment or for housing or an occupational or professional license with a sealed record on file with the commissioner of probation may answer ‘no record’ with respect to an inquiry herein relative to prior arrests, criminal court appearances or convictions. An applicant for employment or for housing or an occupational or professional license with a sealed record on file with the commissioner of probation may answer ‘no record’ to an inquiry herein relative to prior arrests or criminal court appearances. In addition, any applicant for employment or for housing or an occupational or professional license may answer ‘no record’ with respect to any inquiry relative to prior arrests, court appearances and adjudications in all cases of delinquency or as a child in need of services which did not result in a complaint transferred to the superior court for criminal prosecution.” The attorney general may enforce the provisions of this paragraph by a suit in equity commenced in the superior court.
The commissioner, in response to inquiries by authorized persons other than any law enforcement agency, any court, or any appointing authority, shall in the case of a sealed record or in the case of court appearances and adjudications in a case of delinquency or the case of a child in need of services which did not result in a complaint transferred to the superior court for criminal prosecution, report that no record exists.
Within Massachusetts only
Within Massachusetts only
Boston, MA 02108
|Last updated:||May 7, 2019|