Can a criminal conviction be sealed in Massachusetts?

Many people hesitate to hire someone who has a criminal record, even if their record is for an activity completely unrelated to the job they are applying for. Additionally, many employers do not consider the time period that has passed between the conviction and the application for employment. Many people make mistakes in their youth and end up paying for them for the rest of their lives.

Massachusetts allows residents to seal their criminal records if certain criteria is met. Most criminal cases can be sealed by mail after a waiting period. If the crime one was convicted for was a misdemeanor then the waiting period is five years after the conviction. If the crime one was convicted for was a felony, then one must wait for 10 years before applying for a seal. Even where there was no conviction, a petition must be filed with the court to seal the record.

Where there was a conviction, the convicted must file a Petition to Seal Conviction Records form. Where there wasn't a conviction, the Petition to Seal Non-Conviction Records Form must be submitted along with any additional documents deemed necessary. The court considers factors such as the disadvantages caused by the criminal records and evidence that suggests one could overcome certain disadvantages if the record was indeed sealed. The court will also consider relevant circumstances at the time of the offense to see if relapse is a possibility and the amount of time that has passed between the offense and the conclusion of the criminal case. There are also other factors a court considers and someone looking to file the petition should tailor their supporting documents accordingly.

Though many believe a criminal defense lawyer's work concludes after a conviction, it may be possible to get their help to lessen the long-term consequences affiliated with the conviction. Sealing the records after a number of years have passed allows the individual to move on with their life and once again become a productive member of society.

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