A Criminal Charge Doesn't Have to Become a Conviction

Expungement Attorney in Quincy, Massachusetts

Criminal justice reform in Massachusetts in 2018 made it easier for citizens with a criminal record to have it expunged — totally erased — but through November of 2020, the Office of the Commissioner of Probation had received 586 petitions for expungement and approved only 32 of them all year.

Expungement is different from sealing a criminal record. Expungement eliminates all history of the record while sealing merely restricts the record from being viewed by the public, though certain agencies and government employers still have access.

If you have a criminal conviction on your record and wish to apply for expungement to clear away that mistake you made in your life, contact McBride Law. McBride Law proudly serves clients throughout Quincy, Norwell, Hingham, Weymouth, and other areas across Massachusetts.

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What Is Expungement?

Expungement is the permanent erasure of your criminal record, which in Massachusetts is called CORI, or Criminal Offender Record Information. CORI includes not only convictions but also dismissals and not guilty pleas. If you can get your case dismissed before arraignment, however, you can avoid having it included on your record. Once you’ve been arraigned, CORI comes into play.

Expungement is defined in section 100E of the General Laws as “the permanent erasure or destruction of a record so that the record is no longer accessible to, or maintained by, the court, any criminal justice agencies or any other state agency, municipal agency or county agency.”

As part of sweeping criminal justice reforms in 2018, the state of Massachusetts expanded the opportunities for CORI expungement and sealing.

Sealing is a method of hiding your CORI from public view, but it is still available to government agencies and public employers, and thus can continue to haunt you in certain endeavors, including employment, professional licensing, and housing.

Types of Expungement

Under Massachusetts law, there are two types of expungement: time-based and non-time-based, or what might be called a “special case” circumstance.

Time-based means that you must wait a certain number of years after your last criminal case to petition for expungement. For felonies, it is seven years; for misdemeanors, three years.

Other contingencies that apply:

  • You cannot have a record of more than two separate criminal cases. Fortunately, multiple offenses arising from the same incident are counted as only one offense.

  • The offense can’t have resulted in serious injury or death, nor could it have been committed with the intent to do serious bodily harm or cause death.

  • No dangerous weapons (as defined by Massachusetts law) can be involved, including firearms.

  • The offense wasn’t committed against an elderly or disabled person.

  • It was not a sex offense, a sex offense involving a child, or a violent sexual act.

  • The offense wasn’t committed while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

  • It wasn’t a violation of any restraining or harassment prevention order.

  • The offense wasn’t an assault or an assault and battery on a household member.

  • The offense wasn’t a felony under General Laws Chapter 265 (murder and other more serious offenses).

Non-time-based expungements hinge on errors, fraud, and offenses that are no longer classified as crimes, such as possessing small amounts of marijuana. Examples include theft, and false or unauthorized use of your identity, errors by law enforcement, court personnel, or witnesses, and fraud perpetrated on the court.

Petitioning for Expungement

If you meet the above time-based criteria, you can complete and file the Petition to Expunge Form (available online) and supporting documents with the Office of the Commissioner of Probation, who will then notify the District Attorney’s Office in the county where the offense was prosecuted.

If the District Attorney’s Office objects to the petition, a hearing will be held. If there is no objection, the presiding court may decide to hold a hearing, but it is not required to do so.

If your request for expungement is granted, the court clerk will provide you with a copy of the order.

If you’re filing a non-time-based petition, often referred to as a Section 100k petition in reference to the relevant code, you must file the petition with the court where your case was heard.

On the petition, there is a checkbox to request a hearing to appear so you can explain your rationale. You must then convince the judge that an error was made, fraud committed, or that the offense is no longer criminalized (recreational marijuana possession, for instance).

Benefits of Expungement

After your record is expunged, the most obvious benefit is that no one can access or see it because it no longer exists. Therefore, no one can use it as a barrier to keep you from obtaining employment, housing, licensing, or anything else.

In addition, you no longer have to “own up” to your past. If you refuse to acknowledge your record, you cannot be found guilty of perjury or of giving a false statement. You can honestly say, without fear of penalty, that you have no record.

You now have a clean slate and fresh start once the expungement is completed.

Why You Need an Attorney

As you can see from the statistics in the opening paragraph, petitioning for expungement is far from a slam dunk, even if you appear to meet all of the criteria and are now what people may call a model citizen. As with any legal process, there are hoops to jump through and barriers that seem to pop up out of nowhere. Petitioning for expungement is not a process you want to navigate on your own. Hiring an experienced attorney can help your case.

Expungement Attorney Serving Quincy, Massachusetts

Attorney Devin McBride of McBride Law is experienced with all the ins and outs of the Massachusetts criminal justice system and has helped countless others like you exercise their rights and fight for the outcome they desire. If you’re seeking to expunge your criminal record, contact McBride Law today to get started on the process by scheduling a free consultation.

Expungement Attorney
Serving Quincy, Massachusetts

Attorney Devin McBride of McBride Law is experienced with all the ins and outs of the Massachusetts criminal justice system and has helped countless others like you exercise their rights and fight for the outcome they desire. If you’re seeking to expunge your criminal record, contact McBride Law today to get started on the process by scheduling a free consultation.