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Criminal Records and Applying for Jobs

The Ban the Box law makes it illegal for most employers to ask about your convictions on a job application in the first stage of hiring.

At a later stage, when you get interviewed for the job, the employer can ask your permission to get a copy of your CORI.

The employer can only check your criminal record history if you sign an acknowledgement form that says you know the employer is requesting your CORI or a criminal background check. This form will ask for personal information, such as your full name, your date and place of birth, your mother’s maiden name and father’s name, and your Social Security number to make sure it is your CORI the employer will receive.


It is against the law for employers to ask you to get a copy of your CORI for them. A CORI that you get on your own also will list ALL of your cases, including cases that ended in your favor such dismissed cases or cases where you were found not guilty. This is more information than most employers can get under the law. Most employers only get CORI about cases that ended in a conviction and open cases.

Who can see my CORI and what do they see?

Most employers, landlords and housing authorities can get a CORI that shows only convictions and cases that are open.

As of May 4, 2012, most misdemeanor cases can be sealed after a 5 year waiting period and most felony cases after a 10 year waiting period. If you have any convictions or other cases that are old enough to seal but you have not sealed them, the cases will be held back from CORI given to landlords, housing authorities and most employers.

If you have any cases that you could have sealed by mail, they will not show up on your CORI.


Most of the time, you still need to seal your criminal cases.

  • If you do not get the cases sealed, many employers can still see old convictions and cases that were dismissed, or ended in a nolle prosequi - when the prosecutor dropped the case, or a not guilty finding. These are employers like schools, camps, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities.
  • If you have a recent conviction or you get convicted in the future, an employer or landlord can see all your past and present convictions that are not sealed.
  • If you do not get murder or manslaughter convictions and some sex offense convictions sealed, they will still show up. It does not matter how old the convictions are.

If your cases are sealed, most employers will not see your cases on the CORI. But the Department of Early Education and Care, which screens people for daycare jobs, gets to see all CORI including sealed cases. If you apply to be a foster parent or try to adopt, the Department of Children & Families or the Department of Youth Services can see all CORI including sealed cases.

See Sealing My CORI.

Who can see my Juvenile records?

Landlords, housing authorities and most employers can only see your juvenile record if you were prosecuted as an adult. If that happened, the case appears on your CORI.

But summer camp employers can see your juvenile records unless the records are sealed.

Important CORI Alert

Get juvenile cases off your CORI!

If your Juvenile Court Youthful Offender case ended so that you went to state prison or the House of Corrections, or you were on probation after age 21 for this case, this juvenile case will be listed on your CORI.

Youth offender cases have a “YO” in the docket number.

Greater Boston Legal Services is trying to do something about this problem.

If you do not want these juvenile cases listed on your CORI, call Greater Boston Legal Services 617-371-1234 or LARC 617-603-1700.

Once your cases are sealed, most employers, including summer camps, will not see your juvenile cases on the CORI. For information about how to seal juvenile records, see Sealing my juvenile record.

The Department of Early Education and Care screens people for daycare jobs. This department can see all CORI, including sealed juvenile cases.

If you apply to be a foster parent or try to adopt, the Department of Children & Families or the Department of Youth Services can see all CORI including sealed juvenile and adult criminal cases.

For information about sealing your juvenile record, see Sealing my juvenile record.

What can an employer ask me at my job interviews?

Employers may not ask

At any stage in job hiring, employers may not ask you about a first time conviction for the following misdemeanors:

  • drunkenness,
  • simple assault,
  • speeding,
  • minor traffic violations,
  • affray, or
  • disturbance of the peace.

At any stage of hiring, most employers may not ask you about your juvenile court record, except for cases where you were tried as an adult in another court and convicted.

At any stage of hiring, most employers cannot ask you about sealed criminal cases and they will not see your sealed cases on the CORI.

Any stage of hiring, employers cannot ask you about any arrests or detention at a police station or other location unless the case ended in a conviction that is not sealed.

Employers may ask

In later stages of hiring such as the final job interview, the employer can ask you if you ever had a felony conviction. The employer also can ask about any misdemeanor conviction where the date of the conviction or your jail time for it were within the last 5 years, but the employer cannot ask about the first time convictions described above ------drunkenness, simple assault, speeding, minor traffic violations, affray, or disturbing the peace.


If all the convictions are sealed, you can answer “I have no record.” If not all your convictions are sealed, you do not have to reveal anything about the convictions that were sealed.

Produced by Greater Boston Legal Services
Last Updated March 2013

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