Friday, August 15, 2014

SJC updates and eases standards for sealing criminal records

In Commonwealth v. Pon, the Supreme Judicial Court has revised the standards for sealing records.  The last time the SJC address the issue was in 1995, in Commonwealth v. Doe, 420 Mass. 142.  Since the statutes underwent a major revision in 2010, the court felt that the standards articulated at that time "no longer achieves the proper balance of interests."

The new case asks judges to "evaluate the particular disadvantages identified by the defendant arising from the availability of the criminal record; evidence of rehabilitation suggesting that the defendant could overcome these disadvantages if the record were sealed; any other evidence that sealing would alleviate the identified disadvantages; relevant circumstances of the defendant at the time of the offense that suggest a likelihood of recidivism or of success; the passage of time since the offense and since the dismissal or nolle prosequi; and the nature of and reasons for the particular disposition"
For more information, see our page on Criminal Records, and the Court's page here.