Being arrested for, charged with, and convicted of a crime can be a shocking experience in Massachusetts, and one that results in an array of consequences. Indeed, you may face fines and a period of incarceration if you are convicted of a crime, but even if you are merely arrested, the number of opportunities available to you may immediately be diminished.
At The Law Offices of Paul R. Moraski, our experienced criminal defense lawyers in Massachusetts know that a criminal record can have an effect on your life–and sometimes an unfair one. To learn more about how to expunge or seal a criminal record, please call our law firm directly today.
What’s the Difference Between Sealing a Record vs. Expunging a Record?
Many people use the terms sealing a criminal record and expunging a criminal record interchangeably. But the two terms mean very different things.
When a record is sealed, it means that those who are outside of the criminal justice system cannot see it. For example, while the courts can still see it, as can the police, if your employer were to perform a criminal background check on you, then they would not be able to see it. When your record is sealed and you apply for housing or a job, you are permitted under law to state that you have no criminal record.
Having a record expunged, on the other hand, means that the record is completely destroyed so that it’s no longer accessible to anyone, including anyone within law enforcement or any state or municipal agencies.
How to Seal or Expunge a Record in Massachusetts
The rules and regulations for sealing vs. expunging a criminal record are very different – it’s best to consult with an attorney to discuss details specific to your case.
There are two different types of expungement: time-based expungement, which means that the offense was committed before you were 21 and meets certain other criteria, such as was not a sex offense; or non-time-based expungement, which means that the offense can be expunged based on some sort of error that led to the offense being on your record, such as a law enforcement or court employee error.
There are two different processes for sealing a record based on whether the record includes a conviction or not. A record that does not include a conviction can be sealed if the case resulted in a finding of not guilty, a dismissal, a no probable cause finding, a no bill finding returned by a grand jury, or an entry on the record of no further prosecution (nolle prosequi). If the offense did result in a conviction, then you can seal a criminal record if three years have passed (misdemeanor) or seven years have passed (felony).
How Our Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer Can Help
The process of sealing or expunging a criminal record can be very complicated, and is one that is best engaged in with the counsel of an experienced attorney. At The Law Offices of Paul R. Moraski, our Massachusetts criminal lawyer can help. Please call us today at (978) 397-0011 for the support and counsel you need.