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Sealing Criminal Record After Dismissal Now Easier

Dudley Goar, Attorney at Law

In a recent case, Commonwealth v. Pon (No. SJC-11542), the Supreme Judicial Court announced a new lowerstandard for sealing anindividual’s criminal record (“CORI”) with respect to a charge that was dismissed. Under the statute, G.L. c 276, §100C, a former criminal defendant was entitled to have the record of a criminal charge that resulted in adismissal or nolle prosequisealedif the judge hearing the petition to seal determined that “substantial justice would best be served” by sealing. In 2010, the Legislature enacted reforms to the CORI legislative scheme. In Pon,the SJC stated that, “given the demonstrable legislative concerns in these reforms about the negative impact of criminal records on the ability of former criminal defendants to reintegrate into society and obtain gainful employment” the prior stringent standard for sealing a record no longer achieves the proper balance of interests. The Court explained that judges should now determine whether there is good cause to seal a record by balancing the interests at stake: The public’s general right to know versus the defendant’s and the Commonwealth’s interest in keeping the information private. The specific factors a judge should consider in balancing these interests include at a minimum: the particular disadvantages identified by the defendant arising from the availability of the criminal record; evidence of rehabilitation suggesting that sealing the record would held the defendant overcome these 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; and the nature of and reasons for a particular deposition.

Client Reviews

Dudley exceeded my expectations... and came prepared with pictures and information that resulted in us winning the case. I would recommend him to anyone looking for a professional and caring attorney.


I have no words to explain my gratitude for Mr Dudley. He is been my attorney for 3 years and did excellent work to help me out from "OUI" & family case. I would definitely recommend him. He was always there to guide me.


Attorney Goar defended me in a criminal case in which I had been falsely accused of a crime by my business competitors. He was successful in getting the criminal case dismissed and then represented me in a civil case against the people who had falsely accused me. Thanks to Attorney Goar I cleared...


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