Process for Expunging/Sealing Juvenile Criminal Records in Massachusetts
Requirements: The basic requirements for sealing a juvenile criminal record sealed are:
- Juvenile records are not sealed automatically in Massachusetts: you must apply.
- A three-year waiting period applies to all applications for sealing, meaning that a juvenile cannot have a record sealed until three years after any of the following: court supervision, probation, commitment or parole.
- The record to be sealed must be your only record in that three-year period; any new convictions or delinquency adjudications in the intervening three-year period, anywhere in the United States, and your application will be denied. Note: most traffic offenses (i.e., motor vehicle offenses with fines of $50 or less) do not count, as they are infractions, and not felonies or misdemeanors.
Getting the Facts…Straight: If you don't have a current copy of your record, then getting one is your first step. Start at the clerk-magistrate's office, preferably at the local court where you were arraigned. They have a legal obligation to help you obtain a copy of your record, with access to forms and information you need. If this is not possible, ask the Commissioner of Probation for more information. Contact information is below. The results of your application go to the Commissioner, who will notify all other relevant agencies to seal your record (if your request to seal is granted).
After you've reviewed your record to ensure there are no mistakes, prepare your Petition to Seal for the Commissioner of Probation. Go online to this link. (Note: procedure for correcting any errors on your record is completely different from the procedure to seal the record.) You'll complete the petition (details below) and mail it to the Commissioner.
Commissioner of Probation
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108
Main Phone: (617) 727-5300
The Petition: The Petition is the same for all crimes eligible for sealing. You'll select one of four affidavits. For juvenile cases, you'll select the first one: "Section 100B – Chapter 276: Delinquency (juvenile) cases… ". Fill out appropriate contact information, and then select another affidavit toward the bottom of the page and sign it. For juvenile record sealing, you'll be selecting statement #1 that states your eligibility:
"To the best of my knowledge:
- My delinquency court appearances or dispositions including court supervision, probation, commitment or parole, the records for which are to be sealed, occurred not less than three years prior to said request;
- I have not been adjudicated delinquent or found guilty of any criminal offense within the commonwealth in the three years preceding such request, except motor vehicle offenses in which the penalty does not exceed a fine of fifty dollars nor been imprisoned under sentence or committed as a delinquent within the commonwealth within the preceding three years; and
- I have not been adjudicated delinquent or found guilty of any criminal offenses in any other state, United States possession or in a court of federal jurisdiction, except such motor vehicle offenses as aforesaid, and have not been imprisoned under sentence or committed as a delinquent in any other state or country within the preceding three years."
- Index cards are removed and placed with other case papers
- Copy of the docket with date of record sealing and court certification is placed with other case papers
- Case papers are placed in a sealed envelope with your name, docket number of cases enclosed, and the words "Records Sealed … Month, Date, Year" on the front of the envelope. These sealed envelopes are kept in a secure place and arranged by name.
- A sealed record index must be kept, arranged by name and docket number. This index is unavailable for public use.
- Sealed records are only for limited reasons and any department following orders to seal the record must relay that information in writing to any other departments as needed to ensure confidentiality.
Carefully follow all instructions on the petition form. Since CORI reform in Massachusetts (August 2010), the precise wording of forms instructions has and will likely continue to change. to send the completed petition directly to the Commissioner, at the address listed above. Even if you start this process with one of the court clerks as recommended above, remember that is only to acquire information for yourself. Only the Commissioner takes petitions to seal. If you meet the requirements and properly submit the application, the Commissioner will seal the record.
What Gets Sealed: Once the Commissioner directs your record to be sealed, a number of coordinated steps happen that ensure that all relevant parts of the record are sealed away:
Although none of the above is technically your responsibility, you should check to be certain the sealing process was done correctly, and is being maintained properly. Note that once your record is sealed, neither you nor your attorney will have further access to it.
For other articles on Massachusetts expungement of criminal records, click on the following: