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Clearing Criminal Records in Massachusetts

Is It Possible To Clear My Criminal Record?

If you have been arrested, you know firsthand just how difficult and trying it is to be caught up in the criminal justice system. Handcuffed; perhaps treated harshly; brought to court to face a judge; your freedom at stake – everything happens so quickly that it can be disorienting and scary. Even if you ultimately succeed in obtaining some type of dismissal of the charges, you will still have an entry on your criminal record. And a criminal record can cause problems in employment, professional licensing, and even housing and loan applications. Even if the case is ultimately dismissed or you are found not guilty, your record often remains accessible to others, and potentially damaging to your future. However, there are ways to help clear your record as much as possible: petitioning a court to seal the record, or, in some limited situations, expungement.

Sealing Your Record.

Massachusetts provides that individuals may petition a court to seal a criminal record in certain circumstances. The law regarding sealing rights and procedures has changed often over the years – most recently in 2012 with the legislature’s latest CORI reform effort. Sealing your record can make it unavailable for most types of public access, including typical background checks for employment, housing or loan applications. It also means that you can legally deny the existence of the record, and even the events leading to the charges. The criminal record is removed from all public indexes and data bases and can only be accessed with a court order (usually only granted for matters of “public interest”.)

Not all criminal records are eligible to be sealed, however, and there can be a waiting period in many cases. Juvenile records and adult criminal records that end in a conviction, with the exception of first-time adult drug possession convictions, are eligible to be sealed after a waiting period (between 5 – 10 years depending on the crime.) Criminal charges that end favorably in a dismissal, nolle prosequi (commonly known as a ” nol pros,” which means there will be no further action by the prosecution), or a finding of not guilty or no probable cause may be eligible for sealing without a waiting period. Certain records are ineligible for sealing, regardless of the time frame.


Expungement differs from sealing in that it is an actual physical removal of your record from all official indexes or public records. It is as if the record, or the offense leading to the record, never happened. Unfortunately, Massachusetts has no statute providing for expungement of adult or juvenile records, but there are limited circumstances where the courts have allowed expungement of certain records.

Protect your future.

The process for either of these actions will begin with obtaining a complete copy of your criminal record (“CORI” report) through the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS). The process can be an administrative matter or a more complicated one involving judicial hearings. If you are wanting to seal a criminal record, you should seek knowledgeable legal assistance to direct you through the process and help protect your future.

Call Us for a FREE Phone Consultation.

We are top rated defense lawyers serving Massachusetts, who know how to clear criminal records. With offices in Boston and Salem, we are here to help you. Call us for a FREE phone consult.


Client Testimonials

5 Star

In the most painful times in our lives–David, Greg and Lisa showed us their professional best–dignified, warm, gracious. David and his team will not let you down, you will be taken well care of and most importantly superbly and justly represented…
Barbara Lynch

Oh my goodness David is a miracle worker! Unbelievable results! David is so highly respected by attorneys and judges and prosecutors that he really makes an impact in court and presented our friend in the best possible light…

Jude Dasilva

Greg Johnson and David Yannetti are simply the best. After having two other attorneys on a case, I hired them and got results where others failed. They work hard for you and I highly recommend them!…

Vivian Trinh

If it was not for Mr. Yannetti I could have lost my career and opportunity to come back to USA again given that I am not a US citizen. Thank you Mr. Yannetti for all you did for me and my family. You and your office were truly there for me in my darkest hour…

Ajit Gupta

Greg Johnson is a charming attorney and seems to truly care about his client’s and the outcome of their case. If you ever need an experienced criminal defense Lawyer, Yannetti Criminal Defense Law Firm is the one to call!…


“I’ve got your back,” he told me early on. David did not disappoint. By showing up with David in the courtroom, I felt I’d made a clear statement of intent. The case was duly dropped…

James Brooks

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