Employees with criminal records are likely familiar with recent reform concerning the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) database. However, for those potential employees with certain misdemeanors on your records, there is important information that you should know. Under Massachusetts law, various industries, agencies, and employers are allowed to access the database to obtain criminal records of potential employees and tenants. However, under the CORI statute, criminal offender information is limited to the following circumstances
convictions for 10 years following the disposition thereof, including
termination of any period of incarceration or custody,
convictions for 5 years following the disposition thereof, including termination
of any period of incarceration or custody, and
- pending criminal charges, which shall include cases that have been continued without a finding until such time as the case is dismissed
See M.G.L.A. 6 § 172 (3).
After the 5-year statutory waiting period for misdemeanors, most ex-cons are able to have criminal records sealed through an administrative process. For most convictions, the waiting period starts from the date the individual was found guilty or released from incarceration, whichever is later. This 5-year period continues to run as long as the convicted individual receives no other convictions. Upon receiving another conviction, the 5-year clock resets.
Sealing, however, does not occur automatically. The petition process takes place predominantly through the mail. The individual sends a “petition to seal” to the commissioner of probation located in Boston. After a record is sealed, the individual may indicate that he or she has “no record” when asked by potential employers.
However, not all convictions are eligible for sealing in the Commonwealth. Pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws c. 276,§ 100A, convictions for “violations against public justice” can never be sealed. This includes violations such as resisting arrest, witness intimidation, and perjury. Thus, individuals should take substantial precautions when faced with these types of charges. They will not be able to be sealed at a later date and will signal to employers the individual’s character for truthfulness for years to come.