There is a change in how requests to seal cases by mail through the administrative process are being handled by the Commissioner of Probation.
When the last phase of CORI reform took effect on May 4, 2012, waiting periods were reduced to 5 years for misdemeanors and 10 years for felonies under G.L. c. 276, Section 100A. Many of our clients’ petitions to seal records through the administrative process were rejected back in 2012 because there was confusion as to what was the date of the “disposition” under the new law, especially when there were probation violations after a guilty finding. The Commissioner ‘s Office then changed its practice and began treating the sealing period as starting from the date of the guilty finding or the date of release from incarceration (whichever is later) as some of us had suggested was the proper interpretation of the law for convictions.
We recently learned that the Commissioner is doing the same with a CWOF (a continuance without a finding) that ended in a dismissal. If you have a criminal case that was dismissed after a CWOF (a continuance without a finding) and want to seal it by mail, the waiting period is treated as starting on the date of the CWOF, rather than the day the case was actually dismissed.
Important: A CWOF, in some cases, turns into a guilty disposition (a conviction) if the person violates the conditions of the CWOF, such as drug treatment and so forth. If the case ends in a conviction instead of a dismissal, the waiting period starts on the date of conviction or release from incarceration, whichever is later.