People make mistakes—particularly young people. While a certain amount of risk-taking and boundary-testing is normal, even beneficial, teenage behavior, juveniles can be held responsible for their actions in a court of law if teenage hijinks turn criminal.
However, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts recognizes both that young people make mistakes and that young people can reform themselves. When certain conditions are met, it is possible to seal a juvenile criminal record.
Under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 276, § 100B, any person with a juvenile record may submit a notarized request to have that record sealed, as long as:
1) it has been three years since the termination of any court disposition including court supervision, probation, commitment, or parole, and
2) it has been three years since the person has been adjudicated delinquent or found guilty of any criminal offense within or outside the Commonwealth (or in federal court) (except motor vehicle offenses for which the penalty does not exceed a fine of $50) or been sentenced to prison or committed as a delinquent within the Commonwealth.
If these criteria are met, an individual can file a petition to seal either a criminal conviction, which uses one form, or to seal the record of criminal proceedings that did not end in a conviction, which uses another form. It should be noted that both adult and juvenile convictions use the same set of forms, with a box available to indicate the petitioner is seeking to seal a juvenile conviction or record of criminal proceedings.
Along with the petition, one should include all supporting documents that demonstrate one has not reoffended and has become a productive, law-abiding member of society. Additionally, one should provide evidence that an unsealed juvenile conviction has led to hardship.
To get a record sealed, the individual first must get a copy of his or her current record from the clerk-magistrate’s office at the local court where he or she was arraigned. Alternatively, an individual can ask the Commissioner of Probation. A Petition to Seal must be submitted to the Commissioner of Probation. If the request to seal records is granted, the Commissioner will notify all other relevant agencies to seal the record. The Petition to Seal should be mailed to: Commissioner of Probation, One Ashburton Place, Room 405, Boston, MA 02108. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 276, § 100B.
While it is not necessary to have a lawyer during the petition process, a skilled lawyer can help you fill out and file your petition form, assemble all supporting documents, and represent you if your petition is accepted for a hearing. If you are not a US citizen, and your immigration status may be jeopardized unless a criminal record is sealed, it is especially important to have a lawyer help you present your petition.
If you are ready to put the past behind you by sealing a juvenile criminal record, call our office today. We will discuss your particular circumstances and help present yourself to the court in the best possible light, as the reformed, mature adult that you have become.