In Massachusetts, an arrest record is an official overview of a person’s arrest. Law enforcement agencies in the state create and manage these records after a person’s arrest to show whether the person has been booked, detained, questioned, or held for investigation concerning a criminal offense.
Although an arrest record may form part of a person’s Massachusetts criminal record, it is not conclusive proof that the suspected person committed the alleged crime. Instead, it provides information that can be of help during the prosecution. However, not all arrests in Massachusetts lead to a criminal conviction, as a person can be found not guilty for lack of convincing evidence. So, the state, as a result, allows the erasure of arrest records in specific circumstances.
Massachusetts Arrest Statistics
Gathering arrest data in Massachusetts is the duty of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS). The EOPPS gathers National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) and Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) data from law enforcement agencies in the state, and submit them to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program. Annual arrest statistics in Massachusetts do not measure the overall number of individuals arrested because law enforcement may arrest a person multiple times in a year for the same crime or different crimes.
According to the Massachusetts arrest report, there were 77,789 arrests in the state in 2020, a lot lower than the 97,665 figures for 2019. The arrest rate in Massachusetts has, over the years, taken a nosedive, as in 2018, there were 101,456 arrests, 106,827 in 2019, and 110,844 in 2016.
What Is An Arrest Record in Massachusetts?
A Massachusetts arrest record is a document that law enforcement agencies create after arresting a person for violating any provisions of the Massachusetts General Laws. It carries information on the booking, detention, and interrogation of the suspect. After bringing the suspect into custody, an officer will prepare a report in the person’s name, and the report is an arrest record.
What Is Contained in an Arrest Record?
In Massachusetts, an arrest record is a detailed account of a person’s criminal offense and arrest by law enforcement. As a result, the following are some of the contents of an arrest record:
- The criminal suspect’s physical description, which includes race, height, hair, and eye color. The record will also describe other distinctive features of the suspect, like a tattoo, piercing, or birthmark
- The suspect’s full name, and alias(es), if any, current address, occupation, social security number, birthplace, and age
- Information on the police interrogation
- A description of the criminal suspect’s crime, stating whether it is a mere infraction, misdemeanor, or felony
- A detailed account of the criminal occurrence; the officer may rely on the victim or witness statements to put it together.
- A mugshot of the criminal suspect, fingerprints, and other booking details like the date and time of booking. An arrest record also contains the date and time of the arrest, the arrest location, arresting agency, type of arrest, bail amount (if any), outstanding warrants (if any), possible time, and manner of the release.
- The identity of the law enforcement officer that carried out the arrest, and the name of the judge that issued the warrant
Are Arrest Records Public In Massachusetts?
Under Massachusetts law, arrest records are public records, and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) mandates law enforcement agencies to keep these records for the benefit of any interested person. To access the records, an individual may carry out a public arrest record search through the state police at the state level, the office of the county sheriff at the county level. Alternatively, the person may send a search request to the office of the chief of police.
Who Can Access Arrest Records?
The subject of the record is one of the persons that may want to find law enforcement arrest records in the state. Also, an insurance company, legal representatives, and the victim(s) of a crime may need access to arrest records for legal reasons. Other interested parties are government agencies, witnesses, and a bail bondsman. However, not all arrest records are public; law enforcement may withhold records that fall under the following exemptions:
- The person named in the record is a juvenile suspect. In that case, only the minor’s parents, or any other person that the court authorizes, may receive the record.
- If the contents of an arrest record will hinder an ongoing investigation, law enforcement will hold on to a person’s arrest record.
- If disclosing the record will endanger the safety of law enforcement agents or other persons, the law allows for non-disclosure of the record.
- Suppose the arrest record contains privileged and confidential information. In that case, the holding agency will not release the record.
- If the record may expose a confidential source, law enforcement agencies may withhold it.
- If a federal law prohibits the release of an arrest record, interested parties may not get access to it.
How Do I Lookup Someone’s Arrest Records In Massachusetts?
Most times, it is the person named in the record that may want to review it. Massachusetts law also allows for certain categories of persons to request public arrest records. To look up a person’s arrest record in Massachusetts, the best place to start is with the local police department that carried out the arrest. Another way to find arrest records in the Commonwealth is by using the Criminal Offender Record Information (iCORI) search tool from the Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice Information Services. The iCORI search tool is an online database of criminal history information in the state, and an interested person must register to use it.
To start a search on the tool, type in a subject’s name and other relevant personal information. An interested person must have an iCORI account and a valid driver’s license or ID for individual online searches. Persons who do not have a driver's license or ID may submit requests by mail by filling a Personal Request Form and mailing it to the address listed on the form. Personal CORI requests cost $25 per request and $50 for Open Access CORI requests.
An organization that wants to register an online iCORI account must have the following:
- Up to two assigned account representatives
- A federal tax identification number
- The organization’s contact information
- Any applicable license number like an agency license number
To submit a request, the organization must create an iCORI account. The organization must also review and accept the iCORI terms and conditions and the iCORI training documents and pay $25 per request. The next step is to check the CORI results tab and download or print the results.
Alternatively, interested persons may find Massachusetts arrest records on unofficial third-party sites. These sites sweep through law enforcement databases to gather information on a person’s arrest history. Most of the time, an individual only needs to provide basic details like the offender’s name or known alias(es) to initiate the search.
How to Subpoena Arrest Records in Massachusetts
Generally, the public has access to arrest records in Massachusetts, but this right is not absolute. Sometimes, law enforcement agencies may restrict parts of an arrest record or even exempt the record from public disclosure. So, an individual will need a subpoena order to access these restricted Massachusetts arrest records. A subpoena is an order from a court directing a person or government body to appear in court or present certain documents.
Rule 17 of the Massachusetts Rule of Criminal Procedure provides for subpoenas of records. First, the applicant must file a motion in court, specifically identifying the particular documents. Then, the motion must be accompanied by an affidavit that describes the relevance of the document, and the applicant cannot rely on hearsay. A person who is older than eighteen can serve a subpoena in Massachusetts, and in some courts, the clerk’s office prepares and serves the document.
How To Search For An Inmate In The Massachusetts Prison System
The Massachusetts Department of Correction (DOC) manages inmates across fifteen prison institutions in the state. Interested persons may find current prisoners using the department’s inmate search database and provide the inmate’s full first and last name or commitment number. Individuals may use the following steps to complete a search:
- Visit the DOC page on a web browser and locate the ‘’Find an Inmate’ section
- Click the drop-down box and select ‘Massachusetts,’ then click the ‘Find an Offender’ icon
- Enter the offender’s details and click ‘search.’
After clicking search, the page will load and display all Massachusetts inmates that match the information provided. The results will display the offender’s name, custody status, and prison location. The searcher may click ‘More Info’ to see the offender’s ID, date of birth, and gender.
Local jails, however, keep separate records, and the searcher will have to visit the specific facility’s website. Alternatively, interested persons may look up the contact number of the local law enforcement agency in charge of the detention facility and call to make inquiries on inmates booked into the system.
How Do I Find Out If Someone Was In Jail In Massachusetts
The Massachusetts DOC online search tool only provides information on present inmates. Also, the commonwealth state does not maintain a central database for former inmates. So, any person that wants to find out if someone has been in jail, prison, or some other correctional facility, may contact the local sheriff or police department to inquire.
How Long Do Massachusetts Arrest Records Stay On File?
In 2010, Massachusetts passed the CORI Reform Act into law to restrict public access to CORI information after a certain time. If the offense is a misdemeanor, the arrest record will only stay on file for five years, provided the offender has been of good behavior. Also, if the offense is a felony, the records will stay on file for only ten years. Once a person’s arrest record is sealed or expunged, it will no longer appear on CORI reports.
What Is The Difference Between An Arrest Record And An Arrest Warrant?
The major difference between an arrest record and an arrest warrant is that both documents serve different purposes. An arrest warrant in Massachusetts is a document that authorizes law enforcement officers to bring a person into custody based on suspicion of a crime. Meanwhile, an arrest record is a document that follows the arrest, detailing the circumstances of the crime and the suspect’s identity.
Another difference between an arrest warrant and an arrest record is that the warrant must come from a competent court before a law enforcement officer can use it. Any arrest done without a properly issued warrant is invalid and violates a person’s fundamental rights. However, an arresting agency does not need permission to generate an arrest record. Once a suspect is in custody, the arresting officer must prepare a record in the suspect’s name.
What Is The Difference Between An Arrest Record And A Criminal Record?
While an arrest record and criminal record may appear alike, differences exist between both documents. In Massachusetts, a criminal record or rap sheet is a piece of official information on all a person’s criminal activities. It compiles data from various courts and correctional facilities, detailing a person’s trial and convictions. On the other hand, an arrest record only shows that law enforcement suspects a person committed a crime. However, the court may acquit the person in a criminal trial. So, it is not concrete proof of a person’s crime, and it only describes the person’s arrest.
How To Obtain Arrest Records For Free In Massachusetts?
One way to get free arrest records in Massachusetts is to search through free online platforms. However, there is no way to guarantee that the information is correct. Still, getting an arrest record from official law enforcement agencies is not entirely free, as the searcher may often have to pay nominal fees for the authentication and certification of the document.
How To Search For A Massachusetts Arrest Record Online Using A Third-Party Search Service
Getting a physical copy of an arrest record or searching for it online through the many law enforcement agency databases may be difficult and time-consuming. So, an individual may have to depend on third-party search services to find arrest records without delays or long processing times.
A searcher will need to navigate to the preferred third-party site with a web browser to find Massachusetts arrest records. Next, the searcher must input the first and last name of the offender and other relevant details that will aid the search. Many of these third-party sites charge a fee for the service, but it is worth paying the fee than suffering delays and inconsistent services from government offices and sites.
What Can I Do If My Arrest Record Has A Mistake?
If a person’s arrest record has a mistake, it means that the law enforcement officer that compiled the result entered incomplete or inaccurate information. As a result, there are two procedures for correcting arrest record mistakes in Massachusetts:
Incomplete Information: To correct incomplete information listed on a person’s Criminal History Record Information (CHRI), the affected person must first request a certified copy of the docket sheet associated with the arrest. The person may visit the clerk’s office at any Massachusetts courthouses where the arraignment took place. Suppose the affected person is not sure of the particular court that handled the matter.
In that case, the person may request a Massachusetts Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) from the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) iCORI system. The CORI will provide information about the docket number and phone number of the court that heard the matter. Interested persons may use the iCORI guidelines to register, create an individual iCORI account and request online.
Alternatively, the applicant may complete a CORI request form by mail to the DCJIS. After getting a certified copy of the docket sheet, the applicant must also complete and submit the Massachusetts State Police (MSP) Disposition Update Request form to update an incomplete CHRI arrest. The right address to send the completed form alongside the docket sheet is the Massachusetts State Police, State Identification Section, 59 Horse Pond Road, Sudbury, MA 01776.
Incorrect Information: If the offense stated in the Massachusetts CHRI is wrong, the affected person needs to send a message to the state police department that submitted the arrest record to the state or FBI, requesting a review of the arrest report or a fingerprint comparison to those on file for the arrest. The CHRI will list the particular police department that submitted the information, allowing the affected person to call and fix an appointment ahead of time.
After reviewing the person’s information, the police department may find a need to correct the submission in the CHRI. The department will then submit a request to the Massachusetts State Police State Identification Section (MSP SIS) on behalf of the affected person. After receiving the request, the MSP SIS will correct the information in the SIS database and send a copy of the corrected information to the FBI.
How to Expunge Arrest Records in Massachusetts
The presence of an arrest record in a person’s criminal history report can make things difficult for the person. As these reports appear in background searches, the affected person may find it hard to get a decent job or accommodation. To prevent circumstances like these, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts allows for the expungement of a person’s criminal record. Having a record expunged in Massachusetts means that the record will no longer be accessible by the court or other government agencies. The record is then permanently destroyed. There are two types of criminal expungements that a person can qualify for in Massachusetts:
Massachusetts Time-Based Expungement: For a person to get this type of expungement, the offense must qualify for expungement under Mass. General Laws c.276 § 100I. An example of these offenses is a motor vehicle offense with a penalty not exceeding a $50 fine. The affected person must also meet the following criteria:
- The applicant must not have more than two records
- The criminal offense did not result in death or serious injury
- Also, the offender must have been unarmed while committing the offense
- The offense was not committed against a disabled or elderly person
- An expungement will not apply if the offense is an OUI
- A firearms violation or illegal sale of a firearm is not also covered
- The offender must not have committed a sex offense, a sex offense involving a child, or a sexually violent offense
- If the offense is a felony, the applicant must have waited five years after completing the sentence before applying
- Suppose the offense is a misdemeanor. In that case, the offender must wait three years after completing the sentence before filing for an expungement.
After meeting the above criteria, the applicant may fill out a Petition to Expunge Form and attach additional information to support the petition. The process is entirely free, and the applicant may mail the completed form to the Office of the Commissioner of Probation, One Ashburton Place, Room 405, Boston, MA 02108. After analyzing the petition, if the office finds that the applicant meets the criteria, it will notify the District Attorney’s Office in the county where the offense was tried.
Then, the DA has an option to respond, and if the DA’s office objects, then there will be a hearing. If there is no objection, a hearing is at the court’s discretion but is not always necessary. If the application is successful, the clerk will give the applicant a copy of the expungement order. The applicant may also make copies of the record if there is any need for it because once the court orders the destruction of the record, the person can no longer get a copy from the court.
Massachusetts Non-Time-Based Expungement: A non-time-based expungement refers to certain instances where the law allows a person to expunge a record if the record was created based on the following:
- False use of the offender’s information
- Unauthorized use of the offender’s identity
- Theft of the offender’s authority
- If the offense is no longer a crime, e.g., possession of small amounts of marijuana, Massachusetts law allows for this type of expungement.
- Suppose there is an error from law enforcement, witnesses, court employees, or even fraud perpetrated upon the court. In that case, an affected person may get a non-time-based expungement.
If an applicant in this category meets the criteria, such an applicant will need to file a Petition for Expungement Form. It is important to include all charges related to the particular case. Still, if the applicant wants the judge to expunge records in different cases, the person will need to file separate petitions for each case. When filing a petition for expungement, the applicant must provide sufficient details and documents that support the reasons for asking for an expungement.
After completing the form, the person may file the petition in the clerk’s office in the court that heard the matter. The applicant must also provide a copy of the petition and the additional documents to the DA’s office that prosecuted the matter on or before the day of filing the petition. It may be an in-person submission or by mail to the DA’s office. After reviewing the application, the judge may order or deny an expungement in the interest of justice.