How to Seal Your Criminal Record in Massachusetts

Having a criminal record can be a significant obstacle in various aspects of life, including employment opportunities, housing, and personal relationships. Fortunately, Massachusetts law provides a mechanism for individuals to seal certain criminal records, offering them a chance to move forward with their lives free from the stigma of past mistakes. If you're looking to seal your criminal record in Massachusetts, here's a comprehensive guide to navigating the process.

Understanding Record Sealing

Record sealing, also known as expungement, is a legal process that allows individuals to have certain criminal records sealed or hidden from public view. While record sealing does not erase the conviction entirely, it prevents the general public from accessing the information contained within the sealed record. In Massachusetts, record sealing is available for certain misdemeanor and felony offenses, provided they meet specific eligibility criteria.

Eligibility Criteria

Before pursuing record sealing in Massachusetts, it's essential to determine whether your criminal record is eligible for sealing under state law. Generally, the following criteria must be met:

  1. Eligible Offenses: Only certain misdemeanor and felony offenses are eligible for record sealing. These typically include non-violent crimes such as drug possession, shoplifting, and certain property offenses. Offenses involving violence, sexual misconduct, or serious harm to others are generally ineligible for sealing.
  2. Waiting Period: There is typically a waiting period before you can petition to seal your record. For misdemeanor offenses, you must wait three years from the date of conviction or release from incarceration, whichever is later. For felony offenses, the waiting period is usually seven years.
  3. Completion of Sentence: You must have completed all aspects of your sentence, including any probation, parole, or court-ordered programs, before you can petition to seal your record.
  4. Good Conduct: You must demonstrate good conduct and rehabilitation since the conviction. This may include maintaining steady employment, participating in educational or vocational programs, and avoiding further involvement in criminal activity.

Gathering Documentation

Once you've determined that your criminal record is eligible for sealing, the next step is to gather the necessary documentation to support your petition. This typically includes certified copies of court documents related to the conviction, such as the judgment of conviction, sentencing documents, and proof of completion of all court-ordered requirements. Additionally, you may need to provide character references, employment records, and any other evidence that demonstrates your rehabilitation and good conduct since the conviction.

Filing the Petition

The record sealing process officially begins with the filing of a petition with the court that handled the original criminal case. It's advisable to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney who can assist you in preparing and filing the petition correctly. The petition must include detailed information about the conviction, grounds for sealing, and supporting evidence of rehabilitation. Once the petition is filed, a hearing will be scheduled before a judge to review the case.

Presenting Your Case

During the record sealing hearing, you will have the opportunity to present your case before the judge. It's essential to be prepared to articulate why record sealing is warranted in your situation. This may involve discussing the circumstances surrounding the original offense, demonstrating remorse and personal growth, and highlighting any positive contributions you have made to society since the conviction. Providing compelling evidence of rehabilitation and a commitment to leading a law-abiding life can strengthen your case for record sealing.

SEE ALSO: Massachusetts Expungement Lawyer

Judicial Review

Following the record sealing hearing, the judge will review all the evidence presented and consider whether sealing your record is appropriate. The judge will weigh various factors, including the nature and severity of the offense, your criminal history, rehabilitation efforts, and the impact of the conviction on your life. If the judge grants the petition, your criminal record will be sealed, and you will be free from the stigma associated with it.

Benefits of Record Sealing

Sealing your criminal record offers numerous benefits, allowing you to move forward with your life without the burden of past mistakes. With a sealed record, you may have improved employment prospects, access to housing, and the ability to participate fully in civic life. Record sealing can also provide a sense of closure and redemption, allowing you to leave your past behind and embrace a brighter future.


Sealing your criminal record in Massachusetts can be a complex process, but with careful preparation and the assistance of legal counsel, it is achievable. By understanding the eligibility criteria, gathering necessary documentation, filing the petition, presenting your case effectively, and undergoing judicial review, you can take the necessary steps to seal your record and embark on a new chapter of your life. Remember, everyone deserves a second chance, and record sealing offers the opportunity for a fresh start.

Need Criminal Defense Help?

For a Federal or Criminal Consultation, text me today at 1-617-905-1433 or use the form below for your consultation. I will offer you expert help and answer any specific questions you have about your case. I handle criminal defense cases throughout all areas of Massachusetts including Boston, Cambridge, Newton, Springfield, Quincy, Lowell, Worcester, Fall River and national for Federal matters.

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