Boston Expungement and Sealing Criminal Records - Attorney Topazio
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Sealing Criminal Records

Boston Expungement and Sealing Records – Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney

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Criminal Records Sealing And Expungement

Anyone with a serious criminal conviction understands that a felony record can represent a major barrier to employment, housing or educational opportunities. Even misdemeanor convictions can cause trouble for people in the job market or those whose professional license applications include a character evaluation component. For dependable advice about your options for sealing criminal records or expungement of old arrest information in Massachusetts, contact the Boston Criminal Defense Firm of Steven J. Topazio for a free confidential consultation.

Criminal Offender Record Information, or CORI

Public access to criminal records is covered in detail under Massachusetts law, which regulates access to what’s known as the Criminal Offender Record Information, or CORI. The Criminal History Systems Board (CHSB) administers requests for criminal records data in background checks, considers applications for correcting errors on CORI reports, and generally monitors the CORI system to make sure that public information is freely available while keeping confidential information about a given offender private.

A CORI report (your criminal record) will not only include information about a person’s criminal convictions, it will also cover matters such as arrests, dispositions, periods of incarceration or probation, restitution orders, and other data. It should not include information such as psychiatric evaluations or parole board commentary. It’s entirely possible to accumulate a fairly fat CORI file without ever having been convicted of anything.

Don’t wait 5 or 10 years to seal your criminal records from public view

Sealing of criminal records is offered as a matter of right for many criminal offenses, which means that they will not appear on the CORI report, and will not be held against you in job applications, college applications, rental decisions by landlords, or even the decisions of professional licensing boards. The catch here is that misdemeanor sealing rights do not arise until 5 years after the final disposition of the case, and sealing of felony records cannot occur as a matter of right until 10 years after disposition. The term “final disposition” includes completion of parole after release from prison.

Fortunately, there is another way to achieve sealing of your criminal records. A judge can order sealing on a case-by-case basis if you can demonstrate that your interest in getting on with your life outweighs the public interest in knowing about your past mistakes. Ordinarily, the judge’s decision will balance the hardship you have experienced against the public’s need for protection, and evidence of rehabilitation or stabilizing circumstances in your life today can make the decisive difference.

Attorney Topazio has been successful preparing, arguing, and presenting motions to seal in court  well before the current 5 or 10 year waiting period.  See how he can help you.  Contact him today for a free confidential consultation.

Recent Changes In The Law

Massachusetts law has changed over the years regarding the possibilities and procedures of the expungements (erasing) and sealing of criminal records. A motion to expunge a criminal record is a motion to essentially erase the fact that criminal charges were ever even brought in the matter. Its specific purpose is to redress a glaring injustice done to a defendant, when it appears from all the evidence introduced, that the defendant never should have been charged by the Commonwealth in the first place. Expungements or totally erasing any sign of a criminal matter is not generally possible in the Commonwealth due to a recent Supreme Judicial Court ruling in Commonwealth v. Boe, 456 Mass. 337, (March 25, 2010) which held judges cannot expunge criminal records but rather can seal records in conformity with G. L. c. 276, § 100C.

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 276, §100A maintains that a defendant who pleads guilty or who admits to sufficient facts and receives a continuance without a finding (“CWOF”) with probation will have a criminal record that cannot be sealed by way of petition to the commissioner (but might otherwise be sealed by petition to the court) until certain time periods have passed (which was until 2012, 10 years for a misdemeanor and 15 years for a felony) but as a result of the August 6, 2010 passing of the Massachusetts CORI Reform Bill 2010, the legislature reduced the waiting period to its current level of 5 years and 10 years respectively, providing that there are no further convictions except for minor motor vehicle infractions. For the purpose of sealing criminal records, a CWOF with probation will be treated the same way as a conviction.

In 2014, a new standard and procedure was established making it easier to have records sealed where the criminal case ended in a dismissal or entry of a nolle prosequi. As a result of the court decision in Commonwealth v. Pon , 469 Mass. 296 (2014), courts will no longer require defendants seeking sealing under G. L. c. 276, § 100C, second par., prove that the value of sealing clearly outweighs the constitutionally-based value of the record remaining open to society.  Instead, criminal defendants now will only have to prove that “substantial justice” will best be served by sealing.  The new standard means that defendants need only establish that good cause exists for sealing and eliminates the necessity to prove that they risk suffering specific harm if the record were not sealed.

Presently, all criminal records are reported on your CORI regardless of the record’s age or disposition, unless you have your CORI sealed.  A CORI that is not sealed allows employers to view records of all court events, even if your case was dismissed or you were found not guilty. Under the new iCORI law that went into effect on May 4, 2012, on a going forward basis, most employers will only be able to access information related to pending arrests and charges that resulted in a conviction, limited to the past ten years for felonies and the past five years for misdemeanors. The new iCORI law will not affect any record created prior to the passage of the iCORI Act.

Why Sealing Your Record Is The Right Move

Employers check criminal records, admissions boards and financial aid offices check when applying to college and filling our FASFA forms for financial aid, including landlords and realtors before leasing and apartment.  There is no legal reason not to have your criminal record sealed so, if you can do it, sealing your record is nearly always a good idea. Most people will benefit from sealing convictions under §100A, or by sealing records of dismissed cases, acquittals, nolle prosequi cases, and cases where no probable cause was found, under G.L. c. 276, §100C.

If your record is sealed and you apply for most jobs or housing, then the sealed record will not appear on your CORI report.  In the past, the Criminal History Systems Board (“CHSB”) would note on a CORI that the individual had at least one sealed record on file. However, this practice was illegal and it should no longer happen. The CORI should contain no indication that there are sealed records. If an individual has had the entire record sealed, the CHSB should send a report that says there are “no adult criminal records on file.” Sealing your criminal record will not arouse suspicion or create a “red flag,” since nobody except the police, law enforcement agencies, certain other government agencies, and a very few employers will be able to tell that there are sealed records on file.

Contact us today for a free confidential consultation. 

Massachusetts Laws:

Comprehensive Investigation and Case-Building

Don’t pay for pat mistakes your entire life.  Sealing can represent a great opportunity for anyone concerned about the effect of past involvement with the criminal justice system on future job prospects and housing. To see how our experience with criminal records and motions to seal can help you, contact Boston Criminal Defense Attorney Steven J. Topazio to schedule a free confidential consultation.

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RECENT CASE DECISIONS

August 02, 2013
Cambridge District Court
Docket # intentionally omitted
Assault and Battery M.G.L c.265 § 13A(a)
Witness Intimidation M.G.L c.268 § 13B
On December 17, 2012, Boston Criminal Attorney Steven J. Topazio was successful in persuading a judge to dismiss this Domestic Assault and Battery and Witness Intimidation case against his Client, a 38 year-old visiting scholar from China, after Attorney Topazio persuaded the Assistant District Attorney on the case to file a Nolle Prosequi. A Nolle Prosequi is a Latin term meaning “we shall no longer prosecute,” and is a declaration made to the judge by a prosecutor in a criminal case meaning the case against the defendant is being dropped.
The Client re-hired Attorney Topazio to petition the court to seal the records of this case. Attorney Topazio filed a motion to seal and scheduled a hearing. Today, Attorney Topazio persuaded the court to seal both charges. By Massachusetts statute, Client may now answer during a background check that she has never been arrested, charged, or convicted of any crime.
Result: Criminal Record Permanently Sealed.

June 17, 2013
Wrentham District Court
Docket intentionally omitted
Seal criminal records M.G.L. c. 276, § 100A
Possession to Distribute Class D
The client, a 47 year old professional, had a CORI which reflected a CWOF disposition on a Marijuana Possession charge, hired Massachusetts Criminal Records Sealing Attorney Steven J. Topazio to seal his criminal record. The Client anticipates applying as a chaperone and coach at his children’s school and wanted to present with a clean CORI. Attorney Topazio petitioned the court to seal his client’s CORI on the basis that the recorded offense which he admitted to is no longer a crime due to a change in the Marijuana laws. Today, Massachusetts Criminal Records Sealing Attorney Steven J. Topazio caused his client’s criminal record to be sealed. As a result, by statute the client can now truthfully state for all purposes that he has never been arrested or charged with any crime.
Result: Criminal Record Permanently Sealed.

August 27, 2012
Cambridge District Court
Docket intentionally omitted
Seal criminal records M.G.L. c. 276, § 100A
Possession to Distribute Class B, C, and E
The client, a 35 year old professional, anticipating finishing her PHD in Neuroscience in 2012, had a CORI which reflected multiple CWOF dispositions on drug charges, hired Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer Steven J. Topazio to seal her criminal record. The Client anticipates applying for a full time faculty position with Boston University and wanted to present with a clean CORI when applying for employment. Today, Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney Topazio caused his client’s criminal record to be sealed. As a result, by statute the client can now truthfully state for all purposes that she has never been arrested or charged with any crime.
Result: Criminal Record Permanently Sealed.

August 24, 2012
Cambridge District Court
Docket intentionally omitted
Seal criminal records M.G.L. c. 276, § 100A
Possession with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substance
The client, a 35 year old father, recently applied as a parent-volunteer for his child at a Montessori School as a parent volunteer and feared being disqualified due to his CORI which reflected multiple admissions to sufficient fact on drug possession with intent to distribute charges. The Montessori School, as part of the selection process, requires that the Client provide a CORI, hired Boston Criminal Defense Attorney Steven J. Topazio to seal his record. Today, Massachusetts Criminal Attorney Topazio caused his client’s criminal record to be sealed. As a result, by statute the client can now truthfully state for all purposes that he has never been arrested or charged with any crime.
Result: Criminal Record Permanently Sealed.

July 30, 2012
Wareham District Court
Docket Intentionally Omitted
Motion to Seal M.G.L. c. 276 § 100A
The client, who had multiple CWFO’s on her CORI, hired Boston Criminal Defense Attorney Steven J. Topazio to seal her record. Today Attorney Topazio persuaded the court to seal his client’s record so she can truthfully say on any application for employment that she has no record.
Result: Record permanently sealed.

June 22, 2012
Woburn District Court
Docket intentionally omitted
Weapon Violation
Seal criminal records M.G.L. c. 276, § 100A
Possession of Firearm without a license
Malicious Destruction of Property
The client, a 32 year old full-time student attending the University of Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, anticipating receiving my BS in business Administration with a concentration in finance, had a CORI which reflected a one year committed sentence for possession of a firearm and malicious destruction of property, hired Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Steven J. Topazio to seal his record. The Client who is presently employed in the financial services sector and served honorably in the United States Army and who has been an active duty soldier at Fort Hood, Texas and a National Guard member for both Massachusetts and Texas, required a clean CORI because CORI checks have to be completed as part of the Client’s responsibilities with his employor. Today, Attorney Topazio caused his client’s criminal record to be sealed. As a result, by statute the client can now truthfully state for all purposes that he has never been arrested or charged with any crime.
Result: Criminal Record Permanently Sealed.

June 19, 2012
Framingham District Court
Docket intentionally omitted
Seal criminal records M.G.L. c. 276, § 100c
Assault and Battery
Assault with a Dangerous Weapon
The client, a 40 year old mother of three and LPN who was taking classes at Massachusetts Bay College with a goal of completing her RN program, had a CORI which consisted of Assault and Battery and Assault with Dangerous Weapon offenses, hired Boston Criminal Defense Attorney Steven J. Topazio to seal her criminal record. The Client did not want these charges to appear on her CORI as she was required to show a clean record in order to advance her nursing career. Today, Attorney Topazio appeared before the court and persuaded the judge to seal his client’s CORI. As a result, by statute the client can now truthfully state for all purposes that she has never been arrested or charged with any crime.
Result: Case Permanently Sealed.

May 31, 2012
BMC Roxbury District Court
Docket intentionally omitted
Seal criminal records M.G.L. c. 276, § 100A
Larceny over $250 – M.G.L. c. 266 § 30
Malicious Destruction of Property M.G.L. c. 266 § 127
The client, a 26 year old who graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Tufts University in partnership with The School of The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, had a CORI which consisted of a “CWOF” on two counts of Larceny over $250.00 and Malicious Destruction of Property over $250.00, (felony offenses), hired Criminal Defense Attorney Steven J. Topazio to seal her criminal record so that the charges would no longer appear on her CORI. The client plans to graduate this year with a Masters in Creative Arts Therapy from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York, and planned to seek employment as a teacher and did not want any future employer to question her about the charges if they reviewed her CORI. Today, Attorney Topazio appeared before the court and persuaded the judge to seal his client’s case. As a result, by statute the client can now truthfully state for all purposes that she has never been arrested or charged with any crime.
Result: Case Permanently Sealed.

February 28, 2012
Brighton District Court
Docket intentionally omitted
Seal criminal records M.G.L. c. 276, § 100A
OUI – M.G.L. c. 90 § 24
Negligent Operation M.G.L. c. 90 § 24
The client, a 29 year old graduate student and candidate for a Master of Business Administration, was arrested for OUI and hired Attorney Topazio who was successful in getting the case dismissed back in 2008. In 2012, the client re-hired Attorney Topazio to petition the court to permanently seal his record so that the charges would no longer appear on his CORI. The client who is due to receive his MBA in May, 2012, did not want any future employer to question him about the charges if they reviewed his CORI. Today, Attorney Topazio persuaded the judge to seal his client’s case. As a result, by statute the client can now truthfully state for all purposes that he has never been arrested or charged with any crime.
Result: Case Permanently Sealed.

October 27, 2011
Dedham District Court
Docket Intentionally Omitted
Seal criminal records M.G.L. c. 276, § 100A
Larceny by check under 250
Larceny over 250
Malicious Destruction of Property
The client, a 46 year old real estate appraiser, and father of a school aged child, had a CORI which consisted of a conviction for larceny over 250 and malicious destruction of property, hired Boston Criminal Defense Attorney Steven J. Topazio to seal his criminal record. As a real estate appraiser the client found that current laws are now causing clients to run background checks on appraisers and was fearful that his CORI would disqualify from future employment thus harming his earning potential. The client also had plans to volunteer at his child’s school on field trips and didn’t want to be disqualified due to his CORI. Today Attorney Topazio caused his Client’s CORI to be sealed and now he can truthfully answer on any job or school application that he has no record despite being arrested, charged and placed on probation for these crimes.
Result: CORI Permanently Sealed.

July 15, 2011
Boston Municipal Court
Docket Intentionally Omitted
Seal criminal records M.G.L. c. 276, § 100C
The defendant, a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, who completed a tour of duty in Iraq, and a veteran of Desert Storm from the 1st Iraq War, had a CORI which consisted of a “CWOF” on counts of ABPO, AB, Resisting Arrest, hired Criminal Defense Attorney Steven J. Topazio to seal his criminal record. The defendant had suffered specific harm due to his criminal record, and had plans of pursuing employment opportunities with a respected IT Professional Managed Services organization, but was told that due to his CORI was disqualified. Today Attorney Topazio caused his Client’s CORI to be sealed and now he can truthfully answer on any employment application that he has no record despite being arrested, charged and placed on probation for several criminal offenses.
Result: Case Permanently Sealed.

July 11, 2011
Malden District Court
Docket Intentionally Omitted
Seal criminal records M.G.L. c. 276, § 100C
The defendant, a graduate from UMass Boston with a Bachelor Degree in Finance graduating n 2010, had a CORI which consisted of a general continuance for a domestic assault and battery, hired Boston Criminal Defense Attorney Steven J. Topazio to seal his criminal record. The defendant had plans of seeking full time employment within the financial area with a privately-held financial services firm but was not able to obtain employment due to his criminal record because CORI checks are conducted as a requirement for employment. Today Attorney Topazio caused his Client’s CORI to be sealed and now he can truthfully answer on any employment application that he has no record despite being arrested, charged and placed on probation for this crime.
Result: Case Permanently Sealed.

March 08, 2011
Somerville District Court
Docket Intentionally Omitted
Seal criminal records M.G.L. c. 276, § 100C
The defendant, a resident of Texas who grew up in Massachusetts, and who served in the military, had a CORI which consisted of a “CWOF” on two counts of ABDW, hired Boston Criminal Defense Attorney Steven J. Topazio to seal his criminal record. The defendant had plans on obtaining his license to carry a firearm in Texas, but was told that due to his CORI was disqualified under Texas law. Under Texas law a CWOF is considered a conviction, despite the case ending up a dismissal in Massachusetts. The client was told that if he could seal his Massachusetts CORI then under Texas law his Massachusetts CORI would not disqualify him for obtaining a Texas License to Carry a concealed weapon. Today Attorney Topazio caused his Client’s CORI to be sealed and now he can truthfully answer on his application to carry a firearm in Texas, or on any job or school application that he has no record despite being arrested, charged and placed on probation for this crime.
Result: Case Permanently Sealed.

January 27, 2011
Lowell District Court
Docket Intentionally Omitted
Seal criminal records M.G.L. c. 276, § 100C
Possession of Class B, M.G.L. c. 94C § 34

The defendant, an IT professional and father of two, had a CORI which consisted of a conviction for possession of cocaine, hired Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Steven J. Topazio to seal his criminal record. The defendant had plans to volunteer as a coach for his kids at their local school and didn’t want to be disqualified due to his CORI. Today Attorney Topazio caused his Client’s CORI to be sealed and now he can truthfully answer on any job or school application that he has no record despite being arrested, charged and placed on probation for this crime.
Result: Case Permanently Sealed.

August 17, 2010
Barnstable District Court
Docket Intentionally Omitted
Seal criminal records M.G.L. c. 276, § 100C
The defendant a graduate of Cape Cod Community College hired Attorney Topazio to seal his criminal record which conprised of three individual cases, consisting of two counts for assault and battery, B&E Nighttime with intent to commit a felony, intimidation of a witness, and two motor vehicle violations. The defendant who planned to enter nursing school wanted to advance his career. As a result the Client wanted his record sealed prior to applying to nursing school. As a prerequisite to the certification process the School required applicants to have a clean record. Today Attorney Topazio convinced the judge to seal all the entries on his Client’s record and now he can truthfully answer on any job or school application that he has no record despite being arrested, charged and placed on probation for these crimes.
Result: Case Permanently Sealed.

May 26, 2010
Falmouth District Court
Intentionally Omitted
Seal Criminal Record M.G.L. c. 276 § 100c
The defendant, with criminal case entries in several courts on his CORI but with no convictions, hired Attorney Topazio to seal his criminal record. Attorney Topazio filed a motion to seal in court and argued that in order to advance his client’s career his client needed a clean record. Attorney Topazio argued that if his client’s CORI cauased him to lose employment then he might fall onto the welfare of the state. Attoreny Topazio request to seal his client’s record was allowed by the court.
Result: Case permanently sealed.

January 19, 2010
Ayer District Court
Docket intentionally omitted
Seal criminal records M.G.L. c. 276, § 100C; M.G.L. c. 94C, § 44
The defendant a graduate of Bryant College hired Attorney Topazio to seal his criminal record which consisted of five counts, three motor vehicle violations, Possession of class D substance, and minor in possession of alcohol. The defendant who found employment overseas as a teacher of English as a second language needed to obtain a teaching certification which as a prerequisite required applicants to have a clean record. Attorney Topazio convinced the judge to seal the Client’s record and now he can truthfully answer on any job or school application that he has no record despite being arrested, charged and placed on probation for these crimes.>
Result: Case Permanently Sealed.

March 06, 2009
Lowell District Court
Motion To Seal
Assault and Battery M.G.L. c. 94, § 33 (b)
The defendant, who received a term of pre-trial probation for the charge of Assault and Battery, moved to Florida after her probation had ended, hired Attorney Topazio to seal her record. Attorney Topazio filed a Motion to Seal and further notified the court, district attorney and commissioner of probation that due to financial constraints, his client could appear at the hearing date and was requesting that her presence be waived when the Motion to Seal was argued in court. Today, Attorney Topazio convinced the court to seal his client’s record in her absence. His client can now he can truthfully answer on any job or school application that she has no record despite being arrested, charged and placed on probation for this crime.
Result: Case Permanently Sealed.

December 23, 2008
Suffolk Superior Court
Seal criminal records M.G.L. c. 276, §§ 100A, 100C
The defendant a Registered Nurse hired Attorney Topazio to seal his criminal record which consisted of four counts, two for Larceny over $250.00 and two for Receiving Stolen Property over $250.00, all of which were felonies. The defendant who could only find employment as an agency nurse was pursuing further employment as a permanent full time employee in a Hospital in Springfield, MA. Attorney Topazio convinced the judge to seal the Client’s record and now he can truthfully answer on any job or school application that he has no record despite being arrested, charged and placed on probation for these crimes.
Result: Case Permanently Sealed.

December 22, 2008
Wrentham District Court
Seal criminal records M.G.L. c. 276, §§ 100A, 100C
The defendant hired Attorney Topazio to seal his criminal record which consisted of motor vehicle violations and the felony charge of counterfeiting motor vehicle documents. The defendant who admitted to sufficient facts had his charges continued without a finding (CWOF) in 1995. Today Attorney Topazio convinced the judge to seal his Client’s record and now he can truthfully answer on any job or school application that he has no record despite admitting to sufficient facts and being placed on probation for these crimes.
Result: Case Permanently Sealed.