Being charged with a crime is scary enough; being convicted of the crime can be life-changing. Indeed, even after you’ve served your time and faced the penalties of a criminal conviction, having a criminal conviction on your record may impede your ability to secure employment, housing, and other opportunities. For those who want to move forward in life without this hindrance, sealing a criminal record may be the best option.
What Does It Mean to Seal a Criminal Record?
When a criminal record is sealed, it does not mean that the details of the crime (arrest or/and conviction) are removed from the person’s record; instead, it just means that fewer people will have the ability to view the records when they conduct a criminal background check. For example, if records are sealed, employers and landlords won’t be able to see any information about the crime on your record, and you can say that you don’t have a criminal record if asked.
Can I Seal My Criminal Record?
Both conviction and non-conviction records can be sealed in our state. In order to seal a misdemeanor conviction, three years from the date of conviction or three years from the date of serving a period of incarceration (whichever is later) must pass before you can request to have your record sealed; for a felony conviction, seven years from the date of a conviction or the date of serving any period of incarceration must pass before you can request to have your record sealed.
For non-conviction records, you can request to seal a criminal record if your case resulted in a finding of not guilty, if there was a ‘no bill’ returned by a grand jury, if there was a finding of no probable cause, if there was a dismissal of the charges, or if there was an entry of ‘nolle prosequi’ made by the prosecution.
The Process of Sealing a Criminal Record in MA
There are two ways to pursue sealing your criminal record in our state: in court or by mail. In order to begin the process, you should access the Petition to Seal Conviction Records or Petition to Seal Non-conviction Records online or through the court. At the time that you file your petition, you should also file a copy of your adult criminal record, a copy of your juvenile criminal record (if applicable), and a certified copy of the court docket of your offense.
While you do not have to have legal representation during the process, seeking the help of an attorney is strongly recommended. Your attorney can ensure that your forms are filled out correctly, that you’re eligible to have your records sealed, and can represent you throughout the process.
Call Our Law Firm Today
To learn more about sealing a criminal record or for help throughout the process, call The Law Office of Paul R. Moraski today for a consultation. You can reach our Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer by sending our law firm a message directly or by calling (978) 397-0011 at your convenience.