Having a criminal record can affect many areas of your life. It can make it harder or impossible for you to find employment, impact any professional licenses you have and create problems finding housing.
Your reputation among family, friends and colleagues is also likely to suffer, especially if your criminal record involves drug charges. Finding out that you were convicted of a drug crime can make some people view you as a drug addict or deem you untrustworthy or unreliable.
For all of these reasons, it is beneficial to try to seal your criminal record for a drug-related crime.
Yes, you can potentially have your drug charges sealed
Massachusetts allows records to be sealed under specific circumstances and only certain crimes qualify for dismissal. One of these crimes is drug possession.
There are many steps involved in the record-sealing process, including several steps that should be taken before filing the petition to seal.
Before filing your petition, you should obtain a copy of your entire adult and juvenile criminal records. You are not required to file these with your petition, but it is recommended that you do.
You should also request a certified copy of the court docket of your drug offense. Again, this is not required, but filing this with your petition can increase your chance of your petition being approved.
The petition you file depends on if you were convicted of the drug charge or not. There are separate petitions for drug charges that result in convictions and those that do not.
Factors a court considers
The are many different factors that a court will consider when deciding whether to seal your petition.
How the drug charges were resolved is a factor. If they were dismissed or reduced, the court will look at the reasons why.
The court will examine what disadvantages you will face because you have a criminal record and any evidence that having a sealed criminal record would reduce or eliminate these disadvantages.
For example, if you plan to apply to college, and provide evidence of your intent to do so, the court could be more inclined to grant your petition to seal, since a criminal record often prevents people from being accepted to college.
Other factors that the court examines include the amount of time that has gone by since the charge or conviction and the likelihood that you will commit any additional criminal acts in the future.
It is important to remember that if your record is sealed for a drug crime, it only applies to that crime. It does not seal your entire criminal record.
Advantages of a sealed criminal record
However, if you have no other criminal record, a successful record sealing of your drug crime means that any criminal search history performed on you will come back as saying that you have no criminal history.
The benefits of a sealed record are numerous. The law states that you can answer “no” to questions asking if you have a criminal record, which can open up many doors to you that may have otherwise been closed.
Sealing your criminal record is often a long and complicated process. Completing all required steps accurately and thoroughly is essential. You should not go through the sealing process without the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.