Overview Description

Records of a case resolved by a finding of not guilty, a finding of no probable cause, a nolle prosequi, or a dismissal can be sealed by the court immediately. ALM GL ch. 276, § 100C, ALM GL ch. 94C, § 44.

Ineligible Category or Citation

There is no statutory language regarding ineligible offenses.

Procedure General

A petition is required. Despite the use of "shall" in relevant statutes, case law has established that sealing cases with these dispositions is discretionary for the court and that cases sealed through court process must meet a "good cause" standard. See ALM GL ch. 276, § 100C,  ALM GL ch. 94C, § 44, Globe Newspaper v. Pokaski, 868 F.2d 497 (1st Cir. 1989), Commonwealth v. Doe, 420 Mass. 142 (1995), and Commonwealth v. Pon, 469 Mass. 296 (2014).

Fees

There is no fee.

Effect

Sealed records will not disqualify the person from public employment. The person can tell prospective employers they have no criminal record, and court officials will report that no record exists, but the sealed record can be used in specified proceedings. ALM GL ch. 276, §§ 100A, 100C, 100D.

A person whose record relating to a controlled substance charge was sealed need not disclose the indictment, disposition, sealing, or any other related court proceeding in response to any inquiry made for any purpose. ALM GL ch. 94C,§ 44.

Forms

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

Waiting Periods

There is no waiting period.

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