While Massachusetts law gives the public rights to access information like court records, there are instances where an individual’s right to privacy is more important. You can have your criminal and arrest records erased.
If you are looking to have those records wiped out, a Boston criminal defense and immigration lawyer can help. You no longer have to fear that an officer doing a background check, or a curious member of the public might come across something you are trying to move on from.
The nature of the crime determines whether you can get it expunged or not. There is also a different waiting period for misdemeanors and felonies. A criminal defense lawyer needs to evaluate your case to determine whether you are eligible for an expungement.
What Gets into My Criminal Record?
The criminal justice system keeps a record of all arrests and convictions. For instance, an arrest that did not end up in a conviction remains in your criminal record and exposes you to many barriers associated with it. A potential employer or landlord can access a minor conviction from years ago.
Statistics show that about one in every three adults (which is more than 70 million people in the U.S.) have a criminal record. Fortunately, a criminal defense attorney can help individuals eliminate it completely—law enforcers will not have access to it, either.
What Barriers are Posed by a Criminal Record?
Many people can attest that living with a criminal record has complicated their lives and denied them privileges they qualified for and deserved. Some struggle with juvenile records to adulthood.
Limited Access to Opportunities
Approximately 3 in 5 colleges, 4 in 5 landlords, and 9 in 10 employers screen their applicants by checking their criminal records. Convicts also miss significant opportunities because more than 45,000 state and federal statutes and regulations disqualify them.
Denied opportunities on a criminal record basis are among the leading employment-related stigmas out here. And the socio-economic effects on the parents can ruin a child’s overall potential. But if you work towards expunging your records, you can level up with others and go for anything you desire without unnecessary setbacks.
If you are an immigrant, your criminal record can set you up for deportation. No one wants to go back to their home country in such an unceremonious fashion—you want to stay and finish that education or work and finish the employment contract period.
Usually, if you are found guilty of at least two crimes of moral turpitude within five years, you are highly likely to be deported. So, it is safer to clean up your criminal records before it piles up into something else. A family immigration attorney can help migrant families explore their legal options.
Which Crimes are Exempted from Expungement?
You wouldn’t qualify for expungement if you committed certain crimes after the age of 21. The law exempts the following offenses:
- Domestic violence
- Violating harassment, no contact, or restraining order
- Firearm or gun offenses
- Crimes committed while intoxicated
- Sex offenses
- Offenses against a disabled or an elderly person
- Offenses committed while armed with dangerous weapons
- The intention of causing severe bodily harm or death in a crime
- Offenses that resulted in death or serious bodily injuries
I’m I Eligible for Expungement?
Not all criminal records can be expunged. Criminal records can be legally sealed in Massachusetts and protected from the public, if they cannot be erased entirely—and you won’t be obligated to disclose it in an interview or while seeking employment.
You may have been arrested and charged for crimes committed by someone with whom you share a name. Other people are victims of errors made by court employees, witnesses, or law enforcers. If you can prove such wrongful convictions, the records can be expunged.
A Clean Record
If your criminal file has no other court appearances, you can have those records scrapped and start over. But if you have motor vehicle incidences that attracted a fine of more than $50, your chances may be slimmer.
If you completed your misdemeanor sentence three years ago, you could expunge this record in Massachusetts. The earlier you contact an attorney and begin the process, the faster you will unlock limitless opportunities.
Individuals that completed their felony sentences seven years ago can petition to have their records expunged. An experienced sealing and expungement attorney in Boston, MA, can evaluate your felony to know if your case qualifies for expungement.
Offenses Committed Before 21
You can clean up your record of things you did at 17, 18, 19, or 20 and not bear the burden of explaining things that happened while your brain was still developing. Petitions are submitted to the Commissioner of Probation, who will determine your eligibility in 60 days.
How Long Does it Take for the Petition to Be Granted?
If your case is eligible for expungement, the District Attorney’s office is notified and given a chance to object. After 65 days, the Commissioner of Probation sends the petition to court—and if there is no objection, the expungement is granted. A hearing is usually scheduled after 21 days if there is an objection.
What Happens after the Petition is Granted?
As soon as the petition is granted, the United States Department of Justice (USDJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will be required to remove the records from the law enforcement databases. It will be as if you were never arrested or convicted for the crime.
Sound Legal Advice Throughout the Process
A criminal record in Massachusetts can be very frustrating, but you can take advantage of this chance to clean the slate and file for an expungement today. You are only required to prove a clean record after the previous crime or prove that the conviction was based on impersonation or misinformation.
Notably, the expungement process can be complicated, and the laws keep changing. In other instances, you may have to appear in court, and legal representation could give you an advantage. If you are ready to start, call (781) 819-3647 for a free consultation with a Boston expungement lawyer.