Can I Have My Criminal Record Expunged in Massachusetts
This is a frequently asked question here at DelSignore Law. Expungement means that the record will be permanently destroyed. This means unlike in sealing the record will no longer be accessible by the court or any other state, municipal, or county agencies. It's not the same as having a record sealed.
Prior to recent changes to the law expungement was mostly unheard of in Massachusetts and for most people Massachusetts’s process for sealing records accomplished what they are looking for. The main concern for people is employment. They don’t want criminal records to prevent them from getting the job they want or the promotion they deserve. However due to changes in the law there ARE certain circumstances where expungement is allowed and recommended.AM I ELIGIBLE TO HAVE MY RECORD EXPUNGED?
There are two types of expungement processes in Massachusetts;
- time based expungement which is for young people who were charged with less serious offenses and,
- non-timed based expungement which is for charges that should not have been filed against the person in the first place.
They were created for different reasons and to answer of the question of eligibility we will explain them separately below:Time Based Expungement
This type of expungement was created to give young people a second chance. To allow people who were charged at a young age, with a less serious offense, the chance to wipe their record clean. It is called time based expungement because you must wait a certain period of time after the disposition of the case to file. If the offense is a misdemeanor, you must wait 3 years after you’ve completed all parts of your sentence. If the offense is a felony, you must wait at least 7 years.
There are specific requirements to qualify for time based expungement including:
- The offense that the record was created for must have happened before your 21st birthday and,
- The offense must be one that qualifies for expungement under G.L. c.276, § 100E-100U. For an offense to qualify, it must meet all of these criteria:
- The offense didn't result in death or serious bodily injury nor was the offense committed with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury
- The offense wasn't committed while armed with or carrying a dangerous weapon
- The offense wasn't committed against an elderly or disabled person
- The offense isn't a sex offense, a sex offense involving a child, or sexually violent offense
- The offense isn't Operating Under the Influence (of liquor or drugs)
- The offense isn't a firearms violation or a violation for illegal sale of a firearm
- The offense isn't a violation of any restraining or harassment prevention orders
- The offense isn't an assault or assault and battery on a household member; and
- The offense isn't a felony crime against a person under G.L. c. 265.
If you meet these specific conditions you will need to complete a form that can be found online and mail it to the Office of the Commissioner of Probation. After the form is received by the Office of the Commissioner of Probation it is then forwarded to the District Attorney's Office in the county where the offense was prosecuted. The District Attorney’s office has the right to respond. If they object to the petition a hearing will be held. If there is no objection, a hearing may be held at the discretion of the court, but it's not required.
***Keep in mind that you should always request a certified copy of the docket and retain a copy of the police report prior to filing the petition to expunge.Non-Time Based Expungement
This process was created to correct inaccurate or fraudulent charges and to address charges that have since been decriminalized. For example, this type of expungement may apply if someone stole your ID and committed an offense as you or if you were charged with an offense that is no longer a crime such as possession of marijuana. There is no waiting period to expunge these charges. You are eligible for a non-time based expungement if your record is a result of:
- False use of your identification
- Unauthorized use of your identity
- Theft of your identity
- Offense(s) that is/are no longer a crime (i.e. possessing small amounts of marijuana)
- Errors by law enforcement
- Errors by civilian or expert witness(es)
- Errors by court employees
- Fraud perpetrated upon the court
If you are eligible for any of the above reasons, you may petition to have the charge(s) expunged. In order to get an expungement, you must demonstrate to the judge that the court record was created because of one of these reasons and that expunging the record would be in the interests of justice. In order to begin the process, you will need to complete a petition for expungement form which can be found online. On the form you may check the box for full hearing. At the hearing you should be prepared to present evidence that the charge falls into one of the above categories and that it’s in the interest of justice to have it sealed.
A criminal record can have a devastating impact on your life and your career. If you believe you have a criminal record that is eligible for expungement call us at DelSignore Law at 781-686-5924 for a free consultation.