Sealing & Expungement Lawyers in Danvers
A criminal records can have a number of negative consequences for a person. Even if you were never convicted of a crime, criminal charges can still be visible on your criminal record, even if those charges were ultimately dismissed, or you were found not guilty. In Massachusetts, your criminal record is often referred to as your "CORI." Your CORI can be seen by certain employers, housing providers, and other organizations.
If you have an existing criminal record, it is often worth addressing it through either sealing or expunging the record. Whether or not you can seal or expunge your record depends on a number of circumstances. Most importantly, you will need to know the age of the offenses on your record, whether they are misdemeanors or felonies, and if you were convicted. Contact a knowledgeable attorney now to see what options you have available.
Different organizations that check your background have different degrees of CORI access. An organization's level of CORI access determines how much of your criminal record that organization can see. The level of CORI access varies depending on the organization. For example, a public school accepting volunteers will have a higher level of CORI access than most employers.
Organizations with lower levels of CORI access may not be able to see any closed non-conviction entries, or even misdemeanor convictions, while organizations with higher levels of access may be able to see all the entries in your record. Even if you go to court one time for a criminal charge, and you are arraigned, a visible entry could be created on your record.
It is worth noting that sealing your criminal record will not prevent courts, police, and certain other government entities from having access to your record. As an individual, you also have access to your CORI, and can request it online.
Sealing Misdemeanor or Felony Convictions
To seal most convictions, you have to wait a certain number of years. For misdemeanor convictions, you must wait 3 years from the date of the conviction and any period of incarceration before the record is eligible for sealing. For felonies, the waiting period is 7 years. However, if you are convicted of another offense within the waiting period, the period restarts.
For certain types of convictions, there are different rules. Examples include:
- Certain sex offenses have a mandatory 15 year waiting period.
- Juvenile convictions have unique guidelines.
- Some convictions can never be sealed.
If your record is eligible for sealing, a petition must be sent to the Massachusetts Probation Department. Contact a lawyer now to help you complete and file this petition.
As noted, non-convictions can still create entries on your CORI. Non-convictions are eligible for sealing immediately after the disposition of the case. However, the sealing process is more involved. Unlike records of convictions, which are sealed by the Probation Department, sealing a non-conviction requires you to go to court and appear before a judge. The judge has a great deal of discretion in deciding whether or not to seal your non-conviction record.
One important note: If your non-conviction record would qualify for sealing under the waiting requirements for convictions, you can seal it using the same process as you would for a conviction, and thus avoid going to court to seal the record.
When Can You Expunge Your Record?
In certain limited circumstances, a Massachusetts record can be expunged. This is one step beyond sealing, in that expunged records are actually destroyed, and are treated as if the record never existed. Under the current law, expungement is only available for a limited number of offenses such as certain crimes committed as a juvenile or young adult, or some minor drug offenses.
Additionally, if a record should never have been created, but nonetheless was created due to some kind of administrative or technical error or wrongdoing, that record may also be available for expungement. If you think your criminal record might be eligible for expungement, contact an expungement lawyer today.
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