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Are there some crimes that can never be sealed?

Produced by Greater Boston Legal Services
Last updated July 2019

Yes. Some convictions can never be sealed:

  • Some firearms offenses, like selling  ammunition or a gun without a  firearms license, or buying a gun from an unlicensed dealer.  (G.L. 140,  § § 121-131H
  • “Crimes against the Public,” like resisting arrest, perjury, witness intimidation, or aiding escape from jail. (G.L. c. 268
  • State Ethics Act violations like bribes to public officials. (G.L. c. 268A
  • If you are now registered as a sex offender, you are permitted to seal other cases that do not involve sex offenses if you meet all the other requirements to seal the cases. 
  • If you are or were ever a Level 2 or Level 3 sex offender, the law says you can never seal convictions for certain sex offenses like assault with intent to rape, drugging a person for sex, rape of a child and other sex offenses, as defined by Section 178C of Chapter 6 of the Mass. General Laws.

    Once you are no longer required to register as a sex offender, you might be able to bring a lawsuit that argues that as applied to you the law is unconstitutional1 and you should be able to seal your sex offenses. This is complicated so talk to a lawyer for help. 

Important

Previously convictions for resisting arrest were never sealable offenses, but the law changed in 2018 and these convictions can now be sealed.

If your case for one of these never sealable crimes was dismissed or there was a “not guilty” finding or a nolle prosequi (dropping of the case), the case can be sealed. Only convictions for these charges can never be sealed.

Even if you have a convictions that can never be sealed, you can still seal other types of cases that are eligible for sealing.

Endnotes

1 . Greater Boston Legal Services CORI & Re-entry Project (2018, page 8) Page 8 Know Your CORI Rights "Chapter 276 section 100A of the Mass. General Laws provides that any person, who is or was ever registered as a Level 2 or Level 3 sex offender, can NEVER seal convictions for certain sex offenses (i.e. rape, assault with intent to rape, and other offenses as defined by section 178C of Chapter 6 of the Mass. General Laws). In 2017, the Supreme Judicial Court found this exclusion unconstitutional as applied to a person who was no longer required to register as a sex offender. Koe v. Comm'r of Probation, 478 Mass. 12 (2017). This means that if the 15 year waiting period has passed, a person who is no longer in the sex offender registry can try to seal the sex offense conviction through the Office of the Commissioner of Probation at One Ashburton Place in Boston. There is currently no special form for such a request. At a minimum, a person should submit documents that show he or she is no longer in the sex offender registry, and a letter explaining why sealing poses no danger to the public."

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