Sealing a juvenile criminal record in Massachusetts

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.

By sealing a juvenile criminal record, employers can no longer know about one’s criminal history or use it against an employee or job applicant. Sealing a record

To be eligible to petition for the sealing of a juvenile criminal record, an individual must have met the following criteria:

  1. Have reached the age of legal majority (turned eighteen)
  2. It has been three years since the close of the case to be sealed
  3. Not have been involved in any other adjudication or prosecution ending in conviction aside from minor motor vehicle offenses in the past three years, either in Massachusetts, other states, or a federal court
  4. Not have spent any time in custody in the past three years, either in Massachusetts, other states, or federal prison
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, such as by limiting job prospects.

The court proceedings surrounding a petition to seal juvenile criminal records varies slightly based on where one files the petition. Superior Court and Boston municipal courts have different proceedings with slight but crucial differences.

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.

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