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What are Criminal Records in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts criminal record provides official information about a person's criminal history. It includes data compiled and assembled from the local, county, and state jurisdictions, trial courts, appeals courts, and county and state correctional facilities. Although the standard for criminal record collection and storage varies with most counties, a large percentage of records are organized in online record depositories that are available to the public in the form of a Criminal Background Report managed by the Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS).

Are Criminal Records Public in Massachusetts?

Criminal records in Massachusetts are public records. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) dictates that any documents kept by any government agency in Massachusetts are public record. This means that members of the public have access to them, unless otherwise stated by the law. Specific criminal records can be sealed and information not available at the local level if the record has been sealed or expunged. While Massachusetts criminal records vary between different individuals, most records provide general information such as the:

  • Subject's full name and any known aliases
  • Physical descriptors
  • Current and past addresses
  • Fingerprints
  • Photograph or mugshot
  • Current and past warrants
  • Charges
  • Past arrests

Criminal records, considered public in the United States, are made available through some third-party aggregate sites. Searching with third-party websites is often easier as the information is not limited to geographic record availability. Information found on third-party websites can serve as a jumping off point for parties searching for a specific record or multiple records. Typically, requesters must provide the following information to gain access to these records:

  • The record subject's name, unless the subject is a juvenile.
  • The record subjects' last known location, including cities, counties, and states.

Third-party websites offer these search services, but they are not government sponsored. Availability of records may vary.

How to Obtain Criminal Records in Massachusetts?

Criminal records are public records in Massachusetts and are accessible to the general public. Different law enforcement agencies are vested with the responsibility of managing criminal records in the state. A requester can check with the office of the clerk of court of the trial court. Criminal records search can be carried out at the state's department of police, or the office of the county sheriff. An on-demand court record is also possible because of the digitization of these records. A free public criminal record check might be available in Massachusetts. The disadvantage of a free public criminal record search is that it may not contain key pieces of information from the original record.

What is an Arrest Record in Massachusetts?

An arrest record in Massachusetts provides an official overview of a subject's arrest history. It provides information on whether an individual has been detained, booked, questioned or held for investigation in relation to a felony, misdemeanor or any other offense. Arrest records are maintained by different government agencies, including judicial administrative institutions. The following information can be found in Massachusetts arrest records:

  • The alleged crime's specifics
  • The arrestee's personal information, such as their complete name, birth date, and fingerprints
  • The arrest's date, location, and time
  • The location of the detention center
  • The identity of the officer who made the arrest, as well as the person who issued the warrant.

Are Arrest Records Public in Massachusetts?

Arrest records in Massachusetts are public records. Sequel to the Freedom of Information Act  (FOIA) in Massachusetts, arrest records are records created and kept by law enforcement agencies. A requester can carry out a public arrest records search either at the state level through the state police, or at the county level through the office of the county's sheriff or the office of the chief of police. Free arrest records search may be possible in the state but an important part of the record may be concealed.

Massachusetts arrest records are part of the various types of police records generated when an individual has an interaction with police. Police records include arrest records, arrest warrants, incident reports, sex offender information, and police activity logs.

What are Massachusetts Arrest Warrants?

Arrest warrants in Massachusetts provide law enforcement officials with authority to arrest or detain the person(s) named in the document. Signed and issued by a judge or magistrate, a grand jury may also issue arrest warrants. Arrest warrants provide information linked to the order, such as the subject's name and the substance of the offense charged in the complaint or indictment. Arrest warrants can also serve as an active warrant search to aid investigation by the state police or any other law enforcement agencies in the state. Parties can find the following information on arrest warrants issued in Massachusetts:

  • The subject's suspected criminal offense
  • The issuer's name and the date on which the warrant was issued
  • The warrant's expiration date (if applicable)
  • The location and time of the possible arrest
  • The bail/bond requirements that must be met (if applicable)

What are Massachusetts Inmate Records?

Massachusetts inmate records provide official information about persons detained or incarcerated in correctional facilities run by the state or county. Like most states, Massachusetts has a Department of Corrections, which maintains an inmate search database where a requester can look up an inmate. Residents of the state can also perform an inmate search at the office of the Department Of Corrections' primary record access officer. This office is located at 50 Maple Street, Milford, MA 01757. Some of the general information provided in an inmate record include:

  • The offender's name
  • Incarceration date
  • Expected date of release
  • Convicted offense
  • Photos (mug shots)

What Is The Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry?

Massachusetts's sex offender registry is a public sex offender registry that contains the names of persons convicted of committing a sex crime. Maintained by the Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB), it contains details of Level 2 and Level 3 offenders. It provides general information about a subject including:

  • The offender's name
  • Year of birth
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Physical descriptors
  • Conviction and adjudication date
  • Number of convictions
  • Convicted crime

Massachusetts Megan's Law is used to describe established state laws that govern the creation, maintenance and use of a sex offender registry. Megan's Law was created 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. Based on the likely recurrence of sexual offense, it has now become a criminal offense for a sexual offender not to register either at the national sex offender registry or at the state registry. Soon after the 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. Members of the public can obtain public records or information about a sex offender by submitting a request form to the Sexual Offender Registry Board (SORB) at:

P.O. Box 392,
North Billerica, MA 01862

What is an OUI in Massachusetts?

Operating Under Influence or an OUI in Massachusetts is a serious traffic violation. It refers to moving and non-moving violations by motorists that result in the willful disregard for public safety. Serious violations may lead to damage to property, death, or serious bodily injury. Multiple minor traffic violations may also qualify as traffic violations. A driver's ability is considered impaired at 0.08 blood alcohol content (BAC). Moreso, Massachusetts operates a zero tolerance for drunk driving. As such, BAC of persons below 21 must not be more than 0.02.

Unlike most states, Massachusetts does not operate a point system, the Registry of Motor Vehicles is more interested in the number of traffic violations than the point system. However, the consequences for drunk driving or other forms of driving violations are as severe. For instance, if a driver is guilty of over-speeding within a year, such a driver's license will be suspended for at least 30 days. In the same way, if a driver is charged with a traffic violation three times within two years, such driver will be required to go for driver's training within 3months or face an indefinite license suspension.

Any driver designated as a habitual traffic offender means that such driver has been convicted of serious traffic offenses three times within three years. Or such drivers have been convicted of up to 12 minor traffic offenses within five years. The consequence of being designated a habitual traffic offender is the revocation of a driver's license for at least four years.

What are Misdemeanors in Massachusetts?

Misdemeanors in Massachusetts are non-indictable offenses that are generally less severe than felonies. 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. Some examples of crimes that are categorized as misdemeanors include:

  • Possession of controlled substances such as ecstasy, heroin, marijuana, and cocaine
  • Trespassing
  • Operating under the influence (OUI)
  • Disturbing the peace
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Shoplifting and petty theft
  • Larceny
  • Malicious property destruction
  • Disorderly person

Misdemeanor vs felony in Massachusetts is determined by the sentencing. Once an offender is sentenced to death or to a state's prison, then the crime is a felony. Whereas, a misdemeanor is the other offense that cannot be punished by death or sentenced to a state's prison.

What is a Felony in Massachusetts?

Felonies in Massachusetts refer to any crime that carries a penalty of more than one year in a state prison or county jail. Severe felonies, like murder or rape, may lead to a life sentence or the death penalty. Unlike most states, Massachusetts does not classify felonies into different categories. Instead, the punishment for each crime is set by criminal statutes. Some crimes may have fixed sentences, while others may have alternate sentences. Some of the examples of felonies in Massachusetts include:

  • Breaking and entering: carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison
  • Rape: Carries a possible penalty of a life sentence in prison
  • Manslaughter: carries a penalty of up to 30 months in a county jail or up to 20 years in prison and/or fines of up to $1,000
  • Larceny (over $250): carries a penalty of up to 2 years in jail or 5 years in prison
  • Assault with a deadly weapon: carries a penalty of up to 30 months in a house of corrections or 10 years in prison

What are Massachusetts Parole and Probation Records?

Parole records in Massachusetts provide official information about the early release of a prisoner. Inmates who are out on parole must agree to meet certain conditions for a fixed period as part of the terms of their early release. The oversight of parolees is maintained by the Massachusetts Parole Board. It conducts parole release hearings, provides reentry services to offenders, and supervises inmates while in the community. It is also the board's responsibility to make sure that the parole rules are strictly adhered to and that there is no parole violation.

While the prisoner is on supervised parole, the board requires, as a condition of parole, that they pay a monthly supervision fee. 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.

Probation records are different from parole records. They 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.

Parolees or probationers may request their own records by submitting a public request to the central Parole Board office at:

12 Mercer Road
Natick, MA 01760

Members of the public can also obtain public parole or probation records by submitting a request to the Parole board online or via mail.

What are 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" by the juvenile court. 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.

What is a Conviction Record in Massachusetts?

A conviction record is an official 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 records also include 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 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 human error in the past. However, in the 1990s the quality and accuracy of recordkeeping improved exponentially due to the advent of the computer.

 

 

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