Automatic Record Sealing Expanded in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled that automatic report sealing is now applicable to more court-related outcomes

In a unanimous decision, individuals can now have records sealed if they were found not guilty or were involved in a case in which a grand jury declined to indict or a judge found there was no probable cause.

A recent court case in Massachusetts regarding a denied petition to seal a criminal record led to an appeal to the MA Supreme Judicial Court ("SJC") and eventual ruling reversal.

The court determined that "where a defendant stands acquitted on a charge (or the grand jury returns a no bill or a finding of no probable cause has been made by the court), the records pertaining to those charges should be sealed, unless the defendant 'makes a written request to the commissioner' not to seal the records of the proceedings." As such, criminal records maintained by the State of Massachusetts will be automatically sealed unless the subject of the record requests otherwise. This decision also clears criminal records for many Massachusetts residents, increasing the pool of eligible applicants for open job positions.

Employers are encouraged to review the details of this decision to determine if there is any impact to internal hiring or background screening procedures and policies.

Posted: June 14, 2023

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