The international human rights law affirms that stable and decent housing is essential for human survival. However, people arrested but never convicted of sex crimes or those convicted of it as a misdemeanor are often excluded from U.S. public housing because of their records.
It can also be a barrier to education and employment opportunities, and many people wonder if they can turn their lives around. A Boston criminal defense & immigration lawyer can help you find a solution to this problem that can potentially shadow you for a long time.
Can I Expunge a Sex Crime Record?
In an expungement, the criminal record is destroyed permanently. Neither county, municipal, nor state agencies will have access to it – and not even the court can revisit it. While Massachusetts sex crimes do not qualify for time-based expungement, they might be viable for non-time-based expungement.
Boston sex crimes attorneys can assist in deleting the record if it was created under the following circumstances:
- Fraud perpetrated upon the court
- Errors by court employees
- Errors by a civilian or expert witness(es)
- Errors by law enforcement
- Offense(s) that is/are no longer a crime
- Theft of your identity
- Unauthorized use of your identity
- False use of your identification
- Misconduct, impairment, or racial bias that resulted in the complaint being filed without probable cause or in error
- Mistakes made because of failed memory, perception, or other impairments
After expungement, you can confidently say that you have no criminal record if anyone inquires about it. And failure to acknowledge the old sex crime conviction will not make you guilty of giving a false statement or perjury. There will be no proof that it ever happened.
Do I Have a Criminal Record if My Case Ended Well?
Most Bay Staters do not know that a sex crime that was dismissed or that ended in their favor – with a “not guilty” verdict – still leaves them with a criminal record. Sealing can hide an arrest and charge record from potential educational institutions, landlords, and employers.
The only parties that can view a sealed crime are law enforcement agencies and certain public safety employees. Remember, the access to the records by these special parties will be minimal. For instance, it might be reviewed when you apply for a firearm license in Massachusetts.
Similar to records that have been expunged, you can truthfully say that you have no record. Additionally, the Department of Probation and the Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) have an obligation to respond with a “no record” if asked by housing, employment, or educational institutions.
How Soon Can I Seal a Case that I was not Convicted for?
As soon as your case is dismissed, you can ask the court to seal off the records. Before the dismissal, the case remains “open” until the period of CWOF or pretrial probation ends. Afterward, you can file a petition at the court where the lawsuit was filed.
You have to convince the judge that the existence of the “dismissed” record is affecting you significantly. It might be helpful to show how it has or can negatively impact housing, your career, and other life issues. Remember that Boston sex crimes attorneys can guide you through the process to increase your chances of success.
If you do not want to appear before a judge, you have options. You can choose to wait for 3 or 7 years and use an administrative process to seal the record through the Department of Probation. Simply fill a form and deliver or mail it to the Office of the Commissioner of Probation.
Can I Seal My Records if I was Convicted of the Sex Offense?
While you cannot expunge all sex offenses in Massachusetts, one may apply to have it sealed under certain conditions. Unlike other cases with a waiting period of three and seven years, the viability for sex offenses can go up to 15 years from the conviction date. But if one is still in custody in relation to the crime, they can apply for sealing at any time.
Your sealing application can be affected if you get a new entry into your criminal record before the waiting period is over. The sealing date of the latest offense affects that of the previous case and might force you to wait longer. If you are not sure about when or if you can seal your record, consider speaking to a sex crimes lawyer in Boston, MA, for further legal guidance.
Are there Exceptions to Sealing a Sex Crime Record?
Persistent sex offenders are not allowed to seal their records in Massachusetts. They can seal other crimes that meet the requirements – except the sex offenses. It is believed that sealing a recurrent sex offender poses a risk to the public and cannot be granted by the court.
People registered as Level 2 or Level 3 sex offenders for offenses like rape or assault with intent to rape often meet hurdles. You have to write a letter to the Office of the Commissioner of Probation explaining that sealing won’t pose a danger to the public.
Is it Advisable for Non-Citizens to Seal or Expunge their Records?
A person’s criminal record is usually reviewed when they want to change their immigration status or apply for citizenship or a “green card.” It can also act as the grounds for deportation from the United States. It might be a bad idea to seal or expunge your criminal records without consulting with a Boston criminal defense & immigration lawyer first.
If you have to seal or expunge your sex crime record in Massachusetts, make sure that you have certified copies of the dock sheets and the complaint. Failure to get these copies beforehand can force you to move from court to court, asking the judge or the Commission of Probation Office to unseal records to get papers for immigration purposes.
Remember that you might not get the papers in time to present at the immigration hearing. What’s more, the FBI would be able to see that you had a criminal record but may not know what the outcome was. Thus, you can become a victim of exclusion or deportation if you do not have your own documents to show.
Award-Winning Law Firm Aggressively Representing Citizens and Immigrants
The quality of your life can be affected by whether or not you have a criminal record. Fortunately, you can save yourself from the judgment that comes with having one by utilizing the available relief.
At Toland Law, LLC, our Boston criminal defense lawyers can help you get an expungement or sealing. They will also ensure that you do not make mistakes that can have dire repercussions, especially for immigrants. Schedule a FREE consultation with us today to get started.