Articles Posted in Sealing Records

MM, a 38 year old woman from Methuen had a 12 page criminal record with 32 separate offenses spanning 15 years. Her record included both felonies and misdemeanors. She worked as a phlebotomist but wanted to go to Nursing School to become an RN. She was concerned – rightfully – that her criminal record would cripple any chance she had of becoming a nurse and sought to get her record sealed.

In Massachusetts there are two ways to get criminal records sealed. Certain criminal records can be sealed administratively by simply submitting a Petition To Seal to the Commissioner of Probation in Boston. These Petitions do not require a court hearing and if all the time requirements are met these Petitions are allowed automatically. Other criminal records require submitting a Petition To Seal to the Court where the case was heard. These Petitions require a hearing before a Judge in Court and the Judge has discretion to either grant the Petition or deny the Petition.

MM’s criminal record began in 2001 and ended in 2015. Twenty-seven of the cases on her record met the timing (and other) requirements for administrative sealing. Five of the cases on her record (all felony charges) did not meet the requirements for administratively sealing and required a court hearing. These felony charges included Assault with a Dangerous Weapon, Malicious Destruction of Property, Conspiracy, Insurance Fraud, and Filing as False Motor Vehicle Claim. MM sought out a lawyer. MM met with and retained Attorney Robert Lewin from Andover. Attorney Lewin immediately ran a copy of MM’s CORI (Criminal Record) and was able to determine which cases could be sealed administratively and which cases required a court hearing.

In June of 2010 JA, a then 27 year old Indian immigrant, was charged with Offering Money for Sex (2 counts), Kidnapping, Assault & Battery, Assault, and Indecent Exposure. On December 1, 2011, a year and a half after first appearing in Court, all the charges against against JA were dropped when the complaining witness failed to appear in Court on the date the case was scheduled for trial.  JA had to wait to seal his record because he was going through immigration issues. Immigration gets to see records that are sealed and immigration demands to see all the paperwork in any criminal case – even if the record is sealed. In 2019 JA had become a citizen and now wished to seal his record. In January 2019, JA, now age 36 and a resident of the State of California, contacted Attorney Robert Lewin of North Andover about sealing his record. Attorney Lewin gathered the information needed, prepared a petition to seal, sent it out to California for JA to sign, and then filed it with the Commissioner of Probation. On February 28, 2019 the Commissioner of Probation sealed all the charges that had been pending against JA – including the Kidnapping (a felony) and the three sex charges. The sealing of records is an important benefit under Massachusetts law. There are certain offenses which cannot be sealed; however, where it is permitted, sealing should be done in virtually every criminal case

CB, a senior at a local state college, was heading back to school when he got pulled over for a broken taillight. The officer got up to the driver’s window and was immediately struck by the strong and distinctive odor of marijuana. One thing led to another and by the time the police were done they had seized a quantity of marijuana from the car along with a scale, packaging materials, and over $3,000.00 in cash. CB made incriminating statements to the police. CB was arrested and charged with Possession of Class D with intent to Distribute. CB, a Dean’s list student, is due to graduate from college in May and saw his future job prospects going up in smoke. CB retained Lewin & Lewin to represent him. The facts did not lend themselves to a good Motion to Suppress and the evidence of guilt was overwhelming. Initially the Assistant District Attorney was looking for a conviction and a 2 year term of supervised probation. Attorney Robert Lewin met with the Assistant District Attorney and advocated on behalf of CB. The Assistant DA agreed to a continuance without a finding and agreed to lower the term of the probation to one year. On February 8, 2013 Attorney Joshua Lewin appeared in Dorchester District Court with CB. A tender of plea was presented to the Judge. Attorney Lewin asked the judge to continue the case without a finding for three months (to CB’s graduation date from college). Ultimately the Judge agreed to continue the case without a finding for six months. The Judge ordered that the probation was to be administrative. Provided CB stays out of trouble, the charge will be dismissed on August 8, 2013. At that time Attorney Lewin will file a Petition to Seal the record. If the Petition is granted the record will be sealed and it will be as if the case did not happen. In addition had there been a conviction (guilty finding) CB would have lost his license for 2 years; because the case was continued without a finding CB suffered no loss of license. Wins come in all shapes and sizes. CB was thrilled with the result: he was not found guilty; he did not lose his license; his case will be dismissed in six months; and he will be well positioned to get his record sealed in six months. He and his family were very concerned that this case would be disastrous for his future job prospects; now, however, In six months the record will be sealed and the case will not show up on his record.

GG, a 31 year old administrative assistant at a major health care organization, went out with her husband one night and had a bit too much to drink. Upon arriving back home GG accused her husband of having a liason with another woman which her husband denied. GG got angry with her husband and according to the police reports began to slap him in the face repeatedly. Husband called 911, the police responded, and GG got herself arrested and charged with assault and battery. She went to Waltham Court the next morning and got arraigned. GG retained Attorney Robert Lewin. Attorney Lewin prepared a marital affidavit for the husband to sign (he was agreeable to the case being dismissed). Attorney Lewin then met with the Assistant District Attorney and presented the marital affidavit to the Assistant D.A. Attorney Lewin then put the husband in direct contact with the Assistant DA assigned to the case and the husband made it clear that he wanted the case dismissed. On March 12, 2012 GG and her husband and Attorney Lewin appeared in Waltham District Court. At the first call of the case at 9:30 AM the Assistant District Attorney filed a nolle prosequi. A nolle prosequi is a termination of the prosecution of a criminal case by the Commonwealth. It is the Commonwealth’s way of dismissing a case. Attorney Lewin is now preparing a petition to seal the record of the case; when the petition is granted the case will be removed from GG’s criminal record and she once again will have no criminal record. By preparing the case early and by connecting with the District Attorney’s Office early we were able to get the case dropped immediately.

On December 22, 2011 EO drove from his home in Woburn to the parking lot of the Chateau restaurant off Route 93 in Andover. He waited. Shortly after his arrival a vehicle with New Hampshire plates pulled in. A woman exited the vehicle with NH plates and she got into EO’s vehicle. All this was happening under the watchful eye of an undercover State Trooper who was sitting in an unmarked car in the same parking lot. It appeared to the officer as if an exchange of some type was taking place in EO’s car. After a while the woman got out of EO’s car and headed back to her car. The undercover trooper went over to EO’s car and told EO to stay put. The trooper then went over to the woman’s car; according to the trooper she admitted selling 90 percocette pills to EO. The trooper arrested her. The trooper then went over to EO and asked EO if EO had anything the trooper should know about. EO handed the trooper a plastic bag with the 90 percocette pills. EO said the pills were for his own use; the Trooper said tell it to the judge and arrested EO and charged him with Possession of Class B with intent to distribute. This is a felony and a conviction carries a three year loss of license. EO retained Attorney Robert Lewin. EO insisted the pills were for his own use and that he was not a dealer. The history that EO presented is very common. EO had been employed by the public works department of a small town north of Boston. In 2005 he fell down a 30 foot manhole fracturing his leg. He had surgery on his leg and a rod was implanted with screws. When he was discharged from the hospital he was given a prescription for percocette – a highly addictive pain medication. In 2010 he developed an infection around the surgical location and a second operation was conducted. For the pain he was again prescribed percocette. He became addicted to the percocette and bought them in bulk from a drug dealer (the woman). Attorney Lewin obtained the following pieces of evidence and presented them to the Assistant District Attorney in an effort to get the DA’s Office to reduce the charge from Possession with Intent To Distribute to Simple Possession: (1) A color photo taken in 2005 of the open manhole into which the EO had fallen; (2) the fire department report from the day of the accident of the rescue of EO from the manhole; (3) the ambulance report showing that EO had been brought to the hospital; (4) the surgical report from Mass. General Hospital detailing the implant of the rod and screws into EO’s leg; (5) an x-ray showing the rod and screws in EO’s leg; (6) the discharge summary from the hospital showing the prescription for percocette; (7) the hospital reports from 2010 showing the second surgery and the re-prescribing of percocette. Attorney Lewin presented all this evidence to the Assistant DA. The Assistant DA was convinced that EO was not a drug dealer and that these pills were for EO’s personal use in controlling his pain. The DA dropped the “intent to distribute” charge. On February 8, 2012 EO and Attorney Lewin appeared in Lawrence District Court and the Judge took the reduced charge of simple possession and continued it without a finding for one year. If EO stays out of trouble for the one year the case will be dismissed and then the record can be sealed. As a result there is no conviction and no loss of license and in one year EO’s record will be wiped clean.

TK, a 66 year old retired man from Boxford, was caught stealing dinnerware from Building 16 in Haverhill. He was charged with Larceny Over $250, a felony in Massachusetts. A review of the facts indicated that TK had lost his employment as a result of the recession. TK retained Attorney Robert Lewin. Attorney Lewin met with the Assistant District Attorney in Haverhill District Court and convinced the Assistant DA that TK was worthy of a break. On February 8, 2012 Attorney Lewin and TK appeared in Haverhill Court and by agreement TK’s case was continued for six months without a finding. The judge waived the probation supervision fee and so long as TK stays out of trouble the case will be dismissed at the end of the six months. Under the new Massachusetts Criminal Records Law, TK will be eligible to request that his record be sealed at the end of the six months.

The importance of getting a criminal record sealed cannot be overstated especially if you are looking for work. RL is a 44 year old man from Billerica, MA and is a driver for a major transportation company. When he got his job no criminal record background check was done. At the beginning of January 2012 RL learned that his company was now demanding criminal record checks on all employees. RL had a criminal record that went back to 1985 and culminated in 1990 with two convictions for open and gross lewdness in Somerville District Court. If his employer were to learn of those two convictions it is almost a sure bet that RL would get fired. On Thursday, January 5, 2012 RL contacted Attorney Robert Lewin for the first time and arranged to meet with Attorney Lewin on the evening of January 5, 2012. Attorney Lewin had prepared the paperwork to get RL’s record sealed and at their first meeting on January 5 RL signed the paperwork. Attorney Lewin immediately submitted the petition to seal record to the Board of Probation. On Monday, January 9, 2012 the Commissioner of Probation approved the Petition to Seal RL’s criminal record. Thereafter, RL’s employer had RL sign an authorization allowing the employer to obtain a copy of RL’s criminal record. The employer submitted the authorization and the Board of Probation reported back that RL had no record of any criminal court appearances. There are two methods of getting a record sealed: one involves a Petition to Seal submitted directly to the Commissioner of Probation; the other involves a Petition to Seal submitted directly to the court where the criminal case was heard.The type of Petition that is used is determined by how old the criminal record is and the date of the last criminal case on the record. In RL’s situation, his cases were old enough that he was entitled to have his record sealed by a Petition submitted directly to the Commissioner of Probation. This type of Petition is easy, quick, and inexpensive. The firm of Lewin & Lewin does many Petitions to Seal over the course of a year and is highly successful.

On Friday night January 21, 2011 BG, a senior at a local college, went to his school’s hockey game at a rink in Malden. After consuming a few beers he became somewhat rude at the game and was asked to leave. Once outside one thing led to another and BG found himself under arrest for disorderly conduct. BG contacted his father – who happened to be a lawyer – and the father understood the ramifications of his son’s having a criminal record, even for a minor misdemeanor such as disorderly conduct. Attorney Lewin was contacted on Saturday, January 22, 2011. On Sunday Attorney Lewin contacted the Malden Police and began to negotiate a dismissal of the case,prior to the arraignment. The arraignment was scheduled for Monday, January 24, 2011. On Monday morning Attorney Lewin and BG appeared at court; at first the DA was reluctant to dismiss the case prior to arraignment. Eventually Attorney Lewin was able to convince the DA to agree to the dismissal prior to arraignment and the Judge went along with it. The significance of the case being dismissed prior to arraignment is that no entry will be made on BG’s CORI (criminal record). The case will not show up. It is rare for a DA or a Judge to go along with this; however, there is absolutely no harm in asking for the case to be dismissed prior to the arraignment as the worst the DA or the Judge can say is no. Had the case been dismissed after arraignment then the charge would show up on BG’s record and he would then have to explain to every prospective employer who checks his record what the disorderly charge was all about. Now he will be free of that entry on his record; his record is clean.

What is a “Criminal Record”?

Records of criminal cases are kept in a number of different places in Massachusetts: these include the police department involved in the case; the District Attorney’s Office or the Attorney General’s Office; the Court or Courts where the case was prosecuted; the Massachusetts Board of Probation; and the Massachusetts Criminal History Systems Board. With certain very limited exceptions criminal records in Massachusetts are never expunged or destroyed. So, if you have been to court and your case was dismissed or you have been found not guilty the records of the case are not expunged or destroyed. The records of the case remain and they remain forever unless they are ordered sealed.

(1) The records of a criminal case kept by a police department – and these would include such things as the police investigative reports, police reports of witness statements and interviews, arrest reports, booking reports, etc. – are kept by the police departments for as long as the police department wishes to keep them. These records are unaffected by what goes on in Court. These records are also unaffected by any court order that the “court” record be sealed. Generally speaking, the public does not have access to most of these police records.

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