Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court makes it easier to seal a criminal record

Many victims of police misconduct and false arrest are interested in sealing their criminal records. When police charge people with false crimes, the charges remain listed on people’s Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) even if the case is dismissed. Having a CORI, even when the charges are non-convictions, can have a harmful effect on a person’s access to housing, education, jobs, and other opportunities.

In August of 2014, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court made it easier to seal criminal records in court. Criminal cases can be sealed if they ended in a non-conviction (such as a dismissed or dropped case). The new standard is that people must prove “good cause” to seal a record. “Good cause” means proving that having a CORI caused disadvantages such as homelessness, denial of a job or promotion, or trouble accessing other programs, institutions, and opportunities. The judge can also consider factors such as how much time has passed, a person’s role in helping their community, and their efforts at rehabilitation and self-improvement.

If you have a criminal record that you want to seal, we recommend that you review the resources below and contact an attorney. This firm brings civil cases for people who have complaints against police, prison guards, and other governmental officials. We do not handle criminal cases, including sealing criminal records.

Resources for sealing your CORI (from Greater Boston Legal Services):

The new standard for sealing a CORI and a list of factors the judge may consider

Legal explanation of the new standard (for advocates)

Forms for petitions and motions to seal CORI

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