Massachusetts keeps a record of all criminal charges of crimes that are punishable by incarceration. This record is known as “CORI” which is short for “Criminal Offender Record Information.”
What if I’m charged with a crime, but the case is dismissed or I’m found “not guilty”?
A criminal charge will be added to your CORI regardless of the outcome of your case. In other words, a criminal charge remains on your file even if your case has been dismissed or you have been acquitted of the crime.
How will a criminal record affect me?
Having a criminal record may negatively affect your job and housing opportunities.
Employers may ask whether you were convicted of a felony or if you were convicted of a misdemeanor in the last five years. Some employers—such as organizations that work with the elderly or with children—are required to check your CORI before they can hire you. An employer may not check your CORI without your knowledge; however the existence of a criminal record may cause you to lose a job opportunity and an increase in income.
Housing authorities may use your CORI to determine whether you are eligible for public housing or subsidized/section 8 housing. As with employers, public housing agencies cannot check your CORI without your permission. However, a housing authority may deny your application due to your criminal record history.
Your CORI may also affect other aspects of your life. For example, the Department of Children and Families or “DCF” (formerly known as the Department of Social Services or “DSS”) uses CORI checks to determine whether you are suitable to become a foster parent, a legal guardian or an adoptive parent.
Can I request a copy of my Massachusetts criminal record?
Yes. Here are the steps: Complete a CORI Request Form. Sign the form in front of a notary public. Mail the form, a $25.00 check or money order made payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and a self-addressed envelope to the CORI Unit of the Criminal History Systems Board. The address is 200 Arlington Street, Suite 2200, Chelsea, MA 02150. If you cannot afford the $25.00 fee, you should fill out the Affidavit of Indigency as well.
Please note that you do not have to give anyone else a copy of your CORI. According to Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 6, Section 172, it is generally unlawful for another person to request or require you to provide a copy of your own criminal offender record information.
Has a criminal record made it hard for you or someone you know to obtain employment, housing or other opportunities? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comment section below. You may also reach me here.