Massachusetts has criminal and court records available but there are some things a person looking for that information must do to obtain it.
The state has an online system to do a name-based record check but people using it must register. You can register into the iCORI system, maintained by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice Information Services, as an individual or as an organization.
Those seeking criminal records can also get a full state criminal history with a fingerprint check. An appointment can be made online. Those seeking FBI checks can also request those through the Identogo Center link on the state webpage.
Those who don’t wish to use the computerized system must go to the local court, police department, sheriff’s department or correctional facility to get criminal or court records. Those seeking records can also provide a written request to the appropriate entity under the state’s public information laws.
What is a criminal record?
A criminal record is an official document detailing a person’s criminal convictions, pending criminal cases, prior arrests, and other interactions with law enforcement agencies. Additional names for a criminal record include criminal history record, rap sheet, and a police record.
As with marriage records and court records, criminal records are generally public records in the United States and can be accessed through a criminal background check. However, public access to specific criminal record information varies from state to state.
In the State of Massachusetts, criminal records are available online, through a fingerprint check, or through local courts and law enforcement agencies.
What is included in a Massachusetts criminal record?
As criminal records are kept by law enforcement agencies at all levels of government in the United States, a Massachusetts criminal record may vary in format and content depending on the law enforcement database from which it is accessed.
Generally, a Massachusetts criminal record will include the following information:
- A person’s full name and possible aliases
- Personal information such as age, date of birth, sex, ethnicity, height, weight, and other physical characteristics
- Fingerprints and mugshot
- Misdemeanor criminal offenses and convictions
- Felony criminal offenses and convictions
- Traffic records
- Past and outstanding arrest warrants
- Prior arrests
- Pending and dismissed charges
Why would someone access a criminal record?
There are certain situations where a criminal record is necessary.
- This includes obtaining certain professional and trade licenses, such as those in the medical field, construction, financial and legal fields.
- A criminal record is necessary if someone wants to volunteer for children’s charities, become a nanny or childcare worker, a caregiver to the elderly, and even in some situations where they care for animals. It is required for those seeking to foster or adopt children.
- Some may want to see their criminal record to correct false information. Their attorney may want it to properly defend them and an opposing attorney may want it to prove their case.
- Some law enforcement investigators may use it if they think a current crime could be related to a past incident.
What’s the difference between an infraction, misdemeanor, and felony?
When you access a criminal record, the person listed on the record may have an offense listed. Criminal offenses are usually broken into three categories: Infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies.
An infraction is a minor violation, a misdemeanor is more serious, and a felony is the most serious type of crime.
To better understand the information listed on a criminal record, here’s a quick overview of each offense and its severity:
- Infraction: A small traffic violation or littering are considered infractions. An infraction is a minor violation of the law. Usually, punishments are a warning or a fine. Typically, no jail time is associated with an infraction.
- Misdemeanor: If someone were to get a DUI or a drug violation, it’s considered a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is more serious than an infraction but less severe than a felony. Jail time of less than a year or probation are usually associated with these types of crimes. Likely, the offender will do time in a local or county jail.
- Felony: Murder, rape, and arson are considered felony charges. A felony is the most serious type of crime. Offenders are typically sentenced to jail for more than a year and are likely held in a state or federal facility.
What is the difference between a Massachusetts arrest record and a Massachusetts criminal record?
An arrest record is an official document including the details of a specific arrest. A criminal record is a more comprehensive document that includes a person’s entire criminal background known to law enforcement agencies.
Both types of documents are usually public records in the United States, although information about specific arrests may be sealed and rendered inaccessible to the public for a variety of reasons.
Whether an arrest record or a criminal record is accessed, the information listed is for state crimes only. If a person is involved in a federal crime, this information is not listed on a state record.
How do I search for a Massachusetts criminal record?
The first and easiest place to start is with the online iCORI system. There are some questions the state requires you to answer to register and it must approve you before you can use the system. This is a name-based system.
People can also have their fingerprints done and obtain a criminal record that way.
How do I obtain a physical copy of a Massachusetts criminal record?
To get a hard copy of a Massachusetts criminal record, people seeking those records can order those records through iCORI. The most accurate method would be to get fingerprinted and submit it through an Identogo Center. There is no walk-in service for statewide records.
How do I search for Massachusetts criminal case court records?
Massachusetts makes it pretty easy to find court records. There is a state online service where people can search through court cases and view court calendars. There is a portal specifically for attorneys and one for the public. People can also access older court records by going to the archives page.
Does Massachusetts allow criminal records to be sealed or expunged?
Massachusetts allows those eligible to seal or expunge their records. The state differentiates between the two. Sealing a record means the record is there but is hidden from public view. Expungement means the record is taken off a criminal record.
There is no fee to seal your record. Those wishing to do this must first file a petition. There are forms to fill out for those with criminal convictions and those without convictions. Those seeking this must also file a copy of their adult or juvenile criminal record along with a certified court docket of the offense.
To seal a record, the person must demonstrate:
- The problems having your record public has caused.
- Rehabilitation evidence
- Relevant circumstances regarding the offense that suggest success afterward.
- The amount of time passed from the date of offense.
- The nature and reasons for the disposition of the case.
Expunging a record requires eligibility into one of two categories:
- Time-based expungement
- Non-time based expungement
There are a number of qualifying factors to apply for time-based expungement but the first is that the event happened before the person’s 21st birthday. For felonies, the person’s application must be at least seven years after completing their sentence. For misdemeanors, the person must have completed their sentence three years ago.
Non-time based expungement requires the following factors:
- False use of your identification
- Unauthorized use of your identity
- Theft of your identity
- Offense(s) that is/are no longer a crime (i.e. possessing small amounts of marijuana)
- Errors by law enforcement
- Errors by civilian or expert witness(es)
- Errors by court employees
- Fraud perpetrated upon the court
How can I have false information on a Massachusetts criminal record corrected?
There are ways to fix false information on a criminal record in Massachusetts.
- The first thing to do is to check the CORI system to see what is there.
- The next step is to call the probation office in the court where the case was heard and ask for help.
- People can also call the Office of the Commissioner of Probation at 617-727-5300 to inquire on how to fix their record.
- People needing to correct information should also fill out the Massachusetts Incorrect Criminal Offender Information Complaint form. There is also information on guidelines for correcting information.
- The final step is to ask the court where the case was heard to help fix the mistake. Clerks of Courts can help find the file and provide the forms and process for correcting criminal records in their courts. Those seeking to do this will need proof the criminal record is incorrect.
How long are Massachusetts criminal records kept on file?
Police records are kept for three years in most cases. However, criminal records are kept on file permanently until the person dies. In Massachusetts, some records before 1969 may be unavailable because records were kept on paper rather than on a computer then.