Juvenile court records

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Juvenile record alert - you can seal your youthful offender cases and your juvenile court delinquency cases.
 
On Feb. 14, 2024, the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ordered the Commissioner of Probation to stop treating juvenile court youthful offender cases differently than juvenile court delinquency cases.
 

This is important because people who applied to seal their youthful offender records were sent letters by the Commissioner’s office that wrongly told them that:

  • they could never seal certain youthful offender records, and
  • a 7 year, instead of 3 year, waiting period applied to any youthful offender felony charges. 

Our best guess is that these letters were sent out during the last 4 or 5 years.

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What can I do if the Commissioner wrongly denied sealing of my past youthful offender cases?

If you have youthful offender cases that were wrongly denied, you can contact the Commissioner’s office and demand that they immediately seal your youthful offender records.

Be sure to let them know you have a petition on file that was wrongly denied by them in the past. Otherwise, you may be put at the back of the line because the Commissioner’s office has a backlog of other sealing petitions waiting to be sealed by them. Or, they may tell you to file a new petition.

Contact information for the Commissioner of Probation:

Office of the Commissioner of Probation
One Ashburton Place, Rm. 405
Boston, MA 02108

(617) 717-5300 for the Sealing unit: Open M-F, 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM.
(617) 727-8483 (fax)

Who can I contact if the Commissioner won't seal my juvenile court youthful offender cases?

If you have a problem sealing your juvenile court youthful offender records, call Greater Boston Legal Services, 617-371-1234. Or, you can contact the legal aid office that covers where you live.

How do I get a copy of my juvenile record?

It is free and easy to get a copy of your juvenile record. You need to fill out a form. You also need to send a copy of your ID and a stamped, self addressed envelope to the Commissioner of Probation.

Step 1: Download and print the Personal Massachusetts Juvenile Court Activity Record Information Request Form. Fill in the form and sign it.

Step 2: Make a copy of your photo ID. You can use a driver's license, state ID, school ID or other picture ID. This is to prove that it is actually you asking for a copy of your juvenile record.

Step 3: Address an envelope to yourself and put a stamp on it.

Step 4: Put the 

  • filled out and signed form,
  • a copy of your ID, and 
  • your self-addressed/stamped envelope

into another envelope. Put a stamp on that envelope. Mail this to:

Commissioner of Probation
One Ashburton Place, Rm. 405
Boston, MA 02108
Attn: Juvenile Records

You will get a copy of your juvenile record in 14 to 21 days. You can call the Commissioner’s office at (617) 717-5300 if you do not get a reply.

Who can see my juvenile record?

There are two types of Massachusetts juvenile court cases:

  • delinquency cases, and 
  • youthful offender cases. 

Delinquency hearings and records at the courthouse are not open to the public even if the cases are not yet sealed.

Youthful offender hearings and files at the courthouse are open to the public until your records are sealed. 

Juvenile court records are different than adult records. Adults can be convicted of criminal offenses and have criminal records. Young people are “adjudicated” or “not adjudicated” delinquent or as a youthful offender, and they have juvenile records.

If you give permission to 

  • employers, 
  • landlords, 
  • occupational licensors, or 
  • others people

to do a criminal background check on you, your Massachusetts juvenile records will not show up on a “CORI” (Criminal Offender Record Information) report from the Department of Criminal Justice information Services. DCJIS is the state agency that creates CORI reports.

But there are a few exceptions:

  • Summer camp employers get information about any juvenile records unless they are sealed.
  • The Department of Early Education and Care which screens childcare and other early education workers gets access to all juvenile records even if they are sealed.
  • The Department of Children and Families, and the Department of Youth Services, gets access to all juvenile records even if they are sealed for purposes of adoption and foster care placements.
  • Law enforcement and criminal justice agencies, such courts, police, and district attorney offices, have access to all juvenile records even if they are sealed. 
  • If your juvenile court case was transferred from the juvenile court to the superior court, your records will be treated the same as adult records and can show up on CORI reports.
When can I seal my juvenile records?

To seal your juvenile records, your cases 

  • must be from a juvenile court in Massachusetts, and 
  • must be closed. A case is closed if it is no longer going on. If you are on probation or still have hearings to go to, your case is open. 

Closed Massachusetts juvenile court offenses can be sealed if, at the time you ask for the records to be sealed, 

  • the juvenile court offenses to be sealed have been closed for at least 3 years,
  • you have had no other juvenile court adjudications or adult criminal convictions (except motor vehicle offenses with a fine not more than $50) during the last 3 years in any state or federal court in or outside Massachusetts, and
  • you have not been in prison, jail, or juvenile custody during the last 3 years in or outside of Massachusetts.

Important 

You should get certified copies of your juvenile records at the courthouse before you seal them in case you need them in the future. If you are not a citizen, talk to an immigration lawyer first about whether to seal your cases.

How do I seal my juvenile records in Massachusetts?

After the juvenile record is old enough, you can seal it. Fill out the same Petition to Seal form used to seal adult criminal records. 

You can get the form online. Or call the Office of the Commissioner of Probation at 617-727-5300 to ask for a copy of the form. It is free.

Check off box “1” for juvenile cases. Sign the part of the form that asks for identification information and the signature line that goes with box “1.” The petition to seal form must be signed at least twice.

Once you have have filled out and signed the form, mail it to:

Commissioner of Probation
One Ashburton Place, Rm. 405
Boston, MA 02108

Important

Always get certified copies of the “complaint” and “docket sheets” at the courthouse before mailing in the sealing form. You may need copies in the future. For example, you will likely need these documents if you apply for a “green card” or try to change your legal immigration status. 

Once your records are sealed, you can no longer get copies of the records at the courthouse unless you:

  • file a motion (written request) to “unseal” your records at the courthouses where you have records, or
  • send a notarized letter to the Commissioner of Probation at the address listed above asking for a copy of your sealed records.
Resource Boxes
More Resources
Help with CORI sealing
Cori - resources to get help with CORI sealing

Use the Legal Resource Finder to find free legal help to seal your CORI, including CORI sealing clinics on Zoom.

 

Learn more about CORI
CORI - more info box

Download self-help booklets about CORI, including CORI sealing, prepared by Greater Boston Legal Services.

The Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice Information Services has information, links to CORI forms, and more.

 

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