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Massachusetts

Adult Criminal Record Clearance Overview

Adult criminal records for cases in which you were convicted are eligible for sealing in some situations. You have to file a petition with the Office of the Commissioner of Probation to start the process, and if you meet the criteria, the commissioner has to grant your petition. 

  • With certain exceptions, if you were convicted of a misdemeanor, the record can be sealed three years after you complete your sentence. 
  • With certain exceptions, if you were convicted of a felony, the record can be sealed seven years after you complete your sentence. 
  • With certain exceptions, if you were convicted of a sex offense, the record can be sealed 15 years after you complete your sentence. 
  • With certain exceptions, if you were convicted of a first-time controlled substance offense and sentenced to probation, the record can be sealed after you complete your sentence. 
  • If you were convicted for something that is no longer a crime, the record can be sealed at any time. 
  • If you were convicted of an offense and later received a pardon, the record is sealed immediately. 

Adult criminal records for cases in which you were convicted are eligible for expungement in some situations. 

  • Records of arrest and court proceedings created as a result of false identification or identity theft can be expunged by the court immediately. 
  • Records of arrest and court proceedings created as a result of errors by law enforcement, witnesses, or court employees, or of a fraud upon the court, can be expunged by the court immediately. 
  • Records of a prostitution-related or drug possession case can be vacated at any time if the person's participation in the offense resulted from being a victim of human trafficking. 
  • Records of conviction for a first-offense misdemeanor committed before age 21 can be expunged by the court after three years. 
  • Records of conviction for a first-offense felony committed before age 21 can be expunged by the court after seven years. 
  • Records of arrest and court proceedings for an offense that is no longer a crime can be expunged by the court immediately. 
  • Records relating to criminal court appearance or disposition for certain possession or cultivation of an amount of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, or distribution of marijuana offenses, can be expunged by the court. 

Adult criminal records for cases in which you completed a diversion or deferral program are eligible for sealing in some situations. 

  • If you received a continuation without a finding of guilt and completed probation in certain first-time drug offense cases, the record can be sealed immediately. It is up to the judge whether or not to seal the record. 

Adult criminal records for cases in which you were never convicted are eligible for sealing. 

  • If you were arrested but not indicted, no probable cause was found, or you were found not guilty, the record can be sealed immediately. If you meet the criteria, the judge has to seal the record. 
  • If you were arrested but the charges were dismissed or nolle prossed, the record can be sealed immediately. It is up to the judge whether or not to seal the record. 
  • If you receive a judgment that you were wrongfully convictedand incarcerated for a felony, the record is expunged or sealed immediately. 

Adult criminal records for cases in which you were never convicted are eligible for expungement. 

  • Records of arrest and court proceedings for a misdemeanor that did not lead to conviction can be expunged, so long as the petitioner was under 21 and had no other charges or convictions. 
  • Records of arrest and court proceedings for a felony that did not lead to conviction can be expunged, so long as the petitioner was under 21 and had no other charges or convictions. 

Adult Criminal Record Clearance Policies

    Records of any offense which is no longer a crime can be sealed by the commissioner of probation at any time. ALM GL ch. 276, § 100A(2).
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    Records of a case for which a pardon has been granted are sealed immediately. ALM GL ch. 127, § 152.
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    Records of a prostitution-related or drug possession case can be vacated at any time if the person's participation in the offense resulted from being a victim of human trafficking. ALM GL ch. 265, § 59.
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    Records of conviction for a first-offense felony committed before age 21 can be expunged by the court after seven years. ALM GL ch. 276, § 100G, I.
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    Records of conviction for a first-offense misdemeanor committed before age 21 can be expunged by the court after three years. ALM GL ch. 276, § 100G, I.
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    Records of a misdemeanor case may be sealed by the commissioner of probation three years after sentence completion, if petitioner meets specified criteria. ALM GL ch. 276, § 100A.
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    Records of arrest and court proceedings for an offense that is no longer a crime can be expunged by the court immediately. ALM GL ch. 276, § 100K(a)(2).
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    Records relating to criminal court appearance or disposition for certain possession or cultivation of an amount of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, or distribution of marijuana offenses, can be expunged by the court 30 days of a petition being filed. ALM GL ch. 276, § 100K¼.
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    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.
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    Records of a sex offense conviction can be sealed by the commissioner of probation 15 years after sentence completion, if the petitioner meets the specified criteria. ALM GL ch. 276, § 100A(6).
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    Records of a first controlled substance case dismissed after successful completion of probation or continuance can be sealed by the court immediately. ALM GL ch. 94C, § 34.
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    Records of arrest and court proceedings created as a result of false identification or identity theft can be expunged by the court immediately. ALM GL ch. 276, § 100K(a)(1).
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    Records of arrest and court proceedings created as a result of errors by law enforcement, witnesses, or court employees, or of a fraud upon the court, can be expunged by the court immediately. ALM GL ch. 276, § 100K(a)(3)-(6).
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    Records are expunged or sealed by the court upon entry of a judgment or settlement agreement that a person was erroneously convicted and incarcerated for a felony. ALM GL ch. 258D, § 7.
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    Records of arrest and court proceedings for a misdemeanor that did not lead to conviction can be expunged, so long as the petitioner was under 21 and had no other charges or convictions. ALM GL ch. 276, § 100H, I.
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    Records of arrest and court proceedings for a felony that did not lead to conviction can be expunged, so long as the petitioner was under 21 and had no other charges or convictions. ALM GL ch. 276, § 100H, I.
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    Records of a misdemeanor 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 commissioner of probation after five years. ALM CL ch. 276,§ 100A.
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    Records of a felony 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 commissioner of probation after 10 years. ALM CL ch. 276,§ 100A.
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    Records of a sex offense 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 commissioner of probation after 15 years. ALM GL ch. 276,§ 100A.
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    Records of a case will be sealed by the court and probation officials upon a no bill returned by the grand jury. ALM GL ch. 276, § 100C.
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    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.
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    Juvenile Record Clearance Overview

    Below is a general overview of when juvenile records can be sealed in Massachusetts. Please note that the Clean Slate Clearinghouse does not provide legal advice. 

    Read the legal policies and statutes for detailed statutory information. 

    Juvenile Record Clearance Policies Overview 

     

     

    • Most juvenile records can be sealed three years after your case closes or you are released from supervision, probation, commitment, or parole. It must also be at least three years since your last adjudication or conviction and three years since your release from juvenile commitment or adult prison. You have to submit a request to the commissioner of probation to start the process, and it is up to the commissioner whether or not to grant your request. 
    • A record relating to a delinquency or youthful offender adjudication for a misdemeanor can be expunged by the court after three years. 
    • A record relating to a delinquency or youthful offender adjudication for a felony can be expunged by the court after seven years. 
    • Records relating to juvenile court appearance or disposition for certain possession or cultivation of an amount of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, or distribution of marijuana offenses, can be expunged by the court. 

    Find a Lawyer 

    If you think you might be eligible to have your record sealed, find a lawyer who may be able to help you. Some lawyers might help you for free, although you may still need to pay a fee to file the paperwork in court. 

    Court Forms and Resources 

    If you cannot find a lawyer to help you, you may be able to file a petition on your own using these court forms and resources. 

     

     

    Juvenile Record Clearance Policies

      A record relating to any juvenile court appearance on file in the Office of the Commissioner of Probation can be sealed, so long as the person is not subject to any disqualifying event, and at least three years have passed from any court appearance or disposition.€¯ALM GL ch. 276, § 100B
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      Records relating to juvenile court appearance or disposition for certain possession or cultivation of an amount of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, or distribution of marijuana offenses, can be expunged by the court. ALM GL ch. 276, § 100K¼.
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      A record relating to a delinquency or youthful offender adjudication for a misdemeanor can be expunged by the court after three years. Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. 276 §§ 100F, 100I.
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      A record relating to a delinquency or youthful offender adjudication for a felony can be expunged by the court after seven years. Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. 276 §§ 100F, 100I.
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      A record relating to a delinquency or youthful offender misdemeanor case that did not lead to adjudication, can be expunged by the court after three years. Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. 276 §§ 100H, 100I.
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      A record relating to a delinquency or youthful offender felony case that did not lead to adjudication, can be expunged by the court after seven years. Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. 276 §§ 100H, 100I.
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