What defines a Criminal Record in Massachusetts?
A criminal record is an official document that records a person’s criminal history. The information is assembled from local, county and state jurisdictions as well as trial courts, courts of appeals and county and state correctional facilities.
While the standard for criminal record collection and storage varies from county to county, a large percentage of Massachusetts criminal records are organized in online record depositories that are available to the public in the form of a Criminal Background Report. This report is accessed through a number of courts, police departments, and the official Massachusetts State Records Online Database.
The amount of criminal records information presented on StateRecords.org varies from person to person. This is because different sources often have non-standardized state level protocols, storage classifications, requirements, organization and digitization processes for data collection. Criminal records in the state of Massachusetts generally include the following subjects:
Massachusetts Arrest Records
An arrest record is an official document providing information about a person questioned, apprehended, taken into custody, or placed in detention. It also includes information of persons held for investigation and/or charged with, indicted or tried for any felony, misdemeanor or any other offense by any law enforcement or military authority. In Massachusetts, an arrest can result in someone committed misdemeanor or if they commit a felony, where there are reasonable grounds to believe they committed the crime.
Massachusetts Arrest Warrants
An arrest warrant is an official document that is issued by a judge or magistrate on behalf of the local and state jurisdictions. It authorizes a police officer to arrest or detain the person or people named in the warrant or to search and seize the individual’s property. The arrest warrant is issued with the name of the defendant or (if his name is unknown) any name or description by which th defendant is identified with reasonable certainty. The warrant also includes the substance of the offense charged in the complaint or indictment.
A misdemeanor is a non-indictable offense that is generally less severe than felonies. It also does not carry the potential for state prison time. In most states, misdemeanors are punishable by only up to one year in jail. However, a person convicted of a misdemeanor in Massachusetts may be sentenced to more than one year of incarceration in the House of Corrections, depending on the crime.
A felony offense is a criminal conviction with a maximum sentence of more than 1 year, which is served in a county jail or state prison. In some cases, a felony conviction can even be punished by death. Felonies in Massachusetts
range from murder—the most serious felony crime in the state—to rape, assault, robbery, embezzlement, and food stamp trafficking— less serious felonies.
Massachusetts Sex Offender Listing
A sex offender listing
is a registry of persons convicted of committing a sex crime that is often accessible by the public. In most cases, jurisdictions compile their laws into sections, such as traffic, assault and sexual. Judges are given discretion as to whether they need registration for crimes besides the charges listed under the sex offender registration law
. A judge may order an adult to register as a sex offender if the crime they were convicted of involves sexual motivation.
Massachusetts Serious Traffic Violation
A serious traffic violation tends to involve willful disregard for public safety, death, serious bodily injury, damage to property and multiple minor traffic violations. The Massachusetts traffic ticket fine and penalties associated will depend on the ticket (civil versus criminal) and the driving history. This information is listed on your traffic ticket. If you receive an MA traffic ticket, you'll receive points, or surcharges, which appear on your driving record. If you accumulate too many surcharges, you will be penalized.
Massachusetts Conviction Records
A conviction record is a document providing information that a person is found guilty, pleaded guilty or pleaded no contest to criminal charges in a civilian or military court. The criminal charges are classified as a felony, misdemeanor or other offense. Conviction also includes a person judged delinquent and less than honorably discharged or placed on probation, fined, imprisoned or paroled. A criminal conviction is rendered by either a jury of peers or a judge in a court of law. A conviction does not include a final judgment deleted by a pardon, set aside, reversed or otherwise rendered inoperative.
Massachusetts Jail and Inmate Records
Jail and inmate records are official documents of information about a person’s current and sometimes past inmate status. A person who is in jail or considered an inmate is someone deprived of his/her civil liberties while on trial for a crime, or a person serving a sentence after being convicted of a crime. Like most states, Massachussetts has a Department of Corrections
, which maintains an inmate database that contains information like the inmate’s name, incarceration date, expected release date, convicted offense and sometimes photos.
Massachusetts Parole Information
Parole records are an official document that includes information about the release of a prisoner who agreed to certain conditions before completion of their maximum sentence. While the prisoner is on supervised parole, the board requires, as a condition of parole, that he/she pay a monthly supervision fee of not less than $30. The board may also agree to accept a lower fee after determining the inability of the prisoner to pay. In addition, the board may impose any conditions of parole to make sure the best interests of the prisoner and the citizens of Massachusetts are served.
Massachusetts Probation Records
Probation records are official documents that show when a person receives probation as an alternative to prison. Probation allows people convicted of a crime in Massachusetts to serve their sentences out of custody, as long as they follow probation conditions
imposed by the judge and probation officer. Probation is issued in proportion to the crime, so the length and nature of probation differ (sometimes drastically) from case to case.
Probation typically falls into three categories: minimally supervised, supervised and intensive. Intensive probation is a form of very strict probation that has conditions that vary from state to state but that emphasize punishment and control of the offender within the community.
Massachusetts Juvenile Criminal Records
A juvenile criminal record is an official record of information about criminal activity committed by children or adolescents who are not yet of legal adult age. Juveniles are not considered convicted of a crime like an adult but instead, are found to be “adjudicated delinquent”. These criminal records are often mistakenly thought to be erased or expunged once a person becomes of legal adult age, but in fact, the record remains unless the person petitions to have it expunged. If a person was found adjudicated delinquent to a criminal offense, they do not have to respond “yes” if asked whether they have ever been convicted of a crime, unless the question specifically asks if they were ever adjudicated delinquent as well.
Massachusetts History and Accuracy of Criminal Records
The accuracy of criminal records data largely depends on the recordkeeping and technological capabilities of the jurisdiction where the record was assembled and later digitized. Massachusetts criminal records archives usually tend to go back as far as the early 1970s—which is when different institutions began to compile criminal and arrest data into an organized, centralized database, much like we use today. Accuracy was more commonly affected by the human error in the past. However, in the 1990s the quality and accuracy of recordkeeping improved exponentially due to the advent of the computer. As a result, the information provided on StateRecords.org will vary from person to person.
Massachusetts Megan’s Law
Megan's Law is the term for state laws that create and keep up a sex offender registry, which provides information on registered sex offenders to the public. The first Megan's Law appeared after the rape and murder of 7-year-old New Jersey resident Megan Kanka by a sex offender who lived in the girl's own neighborhood. Soon after passage of this first Megan's Law, the federal government required that all states set up sex offender registries and offer the public information about those registered
. The Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry is one of many important tools that families can use to protect themselves, their children, and those they care for from people with criminal sexual behaviors.