There are two ways to seal criminal records—by mail or in court.
- Most criminal records can be sealed by mail after a waiting period.
- Some cases can be sealed by in court, without a waiting period or by mail.
All convictions, except for a first time drug possession conviction, can only be sealed by mail after a waiting period of:
- at least 3 years for a misdemeanor conviction, or
- 7 years for a felony conviction.
If a case was dismissed or ended with a not guilty finding or a nolle prosequi (the prosecutor dropped the case), it can be sealed:
- by mail after a waiting period, or
- in court with no waiting period.
A misdemeanor is a crime where you can be punished by a jail sentence of up to 2½ years, even if you do not go to jail or serve the maximum jail sentence.
A felony is a crime where you can be punished by more than 2½ years in jail, even if you do not go to jail or serve the maximum jail sentence.
See a list of the most common misdemeanor and felony crimes. You can see the Master Crime List of misdemeanors or felonies in Massachusetts.