Criminal records follow you wherever you go, even when you’ve committed a minor infraction. Unfortunately, your criminal record can hamper your access to gainful employment or government benefits, like public housing. Most employers do not hire people with criminal records, as they pose a perceived reputational and safety risk to businesses. It can even trickle down to relationships with the community; you’ll likely face issues if you participate in parental involvement at your child’s school.
Fortunately, there are ways to go about this. Sealing your record will prevent employers, landlords, and other entities from accessing it. You’re also legally allowed to tell employers that you do not have a criminal record. If any party looks up your Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI), it will not specify that your record is sealed; instead, it won’t display your sealed documentation. Having your record sealed will give you a second chance at life, and here’s what you need to know about it:
Sealing a Conviction
In most cases, you can opt to mail in a form to the Commissioner of Probation after waiting for a specific period. If you were charged with a misdemeanor, you’d have to wait for three years; however, if you committed a felony, you’ll have to wait for seven years. This method is the only way you can seal a conviction, except for a first-time drug possession conviction, which you can resolve in court.
However, if you were found guilty, the waiting period begins from the date of the verdict. Meanwhile, if you were sent to prison after being found guilty, the waiting period commences from the date you were released. Convictions for other violations and crimes such as sex offenses will necessitate much longer waiting periods.
Convictions You Cannot Seal
You cannot seal some convictions, which means they will be on your record no matter what. These convictions include crimes against the public, certain firearm offenses, an Ethics Act violation, or specific crimes if you are a registered sex offender.
Previously, individuals who were charged with the possession of marijuana were not allowed to seal their convictions. Fortunately, they are now allowed to seal their records or expunge them in particular cases. Be sure to contact the best lawyers in Boston to find out the best option for you.
Sealing Other Dispositions
Even if you weren’t convicted for an offense, you could still have a criminal record. If the prosecutor dismissed your case, dropped it, or resulted in a “not guilty” finding, then a judge can seal your case in court without a waiting period. You can also pursue this path of having your record sealed if you were charged with drug possession for the first time and followed your probation terms. You have the option to seal your record by mail after waiting for the prescribed period as well.
It’s essential to stay aware of the agencies and employers that can access your sealed record. For example, the Department of Children and Families and criminal justice agencies have the power to look through the history of your records. However, this is typically only if you are looking for work related to children, trying to be a foster parent, or if you are convicted of another crime.
Sealing your record is a crucial step in living a new life after incarceration. It gives you a second chance to live life correctly without the ghost of your prior offenses haunting you. If you need more advice on sealing your record, be sure to get in touch with a criminal attorney in Boston.
The Fernandez Firm is home to the best lawyers in Boston. We focus on all criminal defense types and achieve our clients’ best possible outcomes in criminal cases. Contact us today for a free consultation on your case!