Overview Description

Records of a felony case may be sealed by the commissioner of probation seven years after sentence completion, if petitioner meets specified criteria.  GL ch. 276, § 100A.

Cases that ended in a "file" or "guilty file" disposition must be sealed under this provision even though the "file" disposition is classified as a "non-conviction" on a criminal background report obtained from the Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice Information Services.

Ineligible Category or Citation

See ineligible offenses at ALM GL ch 276, section 100A.

Procedure General

A petition form must be filed with the Commissioner of Probation. The petition can be mailed or hand-delivered. For the specific procedure, see ALM GL ch. 276, § 100A.

Fees

There is no fee.

Effect

Sealed records will not disqualify the person from public service or employment by the state and municipalities. The person can tell prospective employers they have no criminal record. Court officials report that no record exists. The sealed record is not admissible and cannot be used in court or other proceedings, except at sentencing for a subsequent conviction and in certain limited civil cases. Law enforcement has access to sealed records. ALM GL ch. 276, §§ 100A, 100C, 100D.

Forms

For a petition to seal records in Massachusetts, visit here.

Waiting Periods

After the case is closed, the petition can be filed seven years after the conviction or release from incarceration, whichever is later. Parole and probation do not extend the waiting period.

If a case was dismissed, nolle prossed, or ended in a not guilty finding, the waiting period usually starts on the date of dismissal or final disposition. However, if the dismissal is after a continuance without a finding (CWOF), the waiting period runs from the date of the CWOF rather than the later date when the case was dismissed.

 

(non-prod server)