Massachusetts Criminal Records:From Arrest Warrants through Expunged Criminal Records

Massachusetts Arrest Records and Warrant Search

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What is an Arrest Record?

In the state of Massachusetts, details on arrests and active warrants is a part of the cumulative and extensive Criminal Offender Record Information or CORI which includes data on all criminal court appearances of an individual, detentions to his name, convictions and serious criminal offenses. Every year, nearly 1.5 million CORI reports are issued all over the state.

Because criminal records against a person can seriously dampen his/her chances of seeking employment and government offered benefits, a recent amendment was made to the CORI system which was meant to improve the job opportunities available to people who have arrest records against them.

CORI, in simple terms, is an exhaustive report on the criminal involvements of an individual. Unlike in some other states, crime history data not only includes details on cases that ended in conviction but also those matters where the defendant was acquitted and cases that were dismissed by the courts. In fact, all run ins with the law are noted in the CORI.

Massachusetts criminal history records are maintained by the Department of Criminal Justice Information Service or DCJIS. The data is disseminated in the interest of community safety and it is frequently used by employers, school administrators, hospital management and housing officials to keep antisocial elements at bay.

However, there is also a flipside to the sheer amount of information offered in the CORI and the ease with which various factions of the society can access this data. These crime history reports are known to create significant barriers to procuring housing loans, employment and state offered facilities.

Access to the CORI files is offered at various levels; for instance, standard applicants such as landlords and employers will only be able to view information about open cases, sex offense and predatory convictions, manslaughter and unsealed murder charges. Also, CORI reports only include information on criminal matters that have occurred within the state of Massachusetts.

What is an Arrest Warrant?

As its name suggests, a Massachusetts arrest warrant is a directive from a criminal court that authorizes police officers to detain a person who is being accused of a transgression that can be deemed as a crime under the laws of the state. Also termed as active warrants, these orders are only issued upon the return of an indictment or the filing of a formal complaint.

Pursuant to Rule.4 of the Massachusetts Criminal procedure, certain guidelines have to be followed pertaining to the form and the content of the complaint filed for the procurement of arrest warrants. For instance, an affidavit of this nature must contain a concise and pertinent description of the criminal act in question.

The complaint can be filed in court by a representative of the law enforcement agency that has handled the investigation of the crime. So, a police officer, detective, police chief or a prosecutor can file a complaint for the issue of active warrants. It is also possible for civilians to take complaints against a criminal matter in front of the bench.

However, it is the norm for summons to be issued in response to such petition. When this legal order is disobeyed or if the magistrate has any reason to believe that it will not be honored, a warrant can be issued in lieu of it. Of course, the recommendation of the prosecutor on the matter will also hold due relevance.

For instance, summons may be issued instead of an arrest warrant if the prosecution places such a request before the bench or even vice versa. Active warrants from Massachusetts can be issued in all criminal circumstances unless the accused is a juvenile who is younger than 12 years. The call to issue an arrest warrant can solely be taken on the basis of probable cause.

To make a determination on this all important perquisite, the court may rely on the affidavit filed by the police or the arguments made by the prosecutor in favor of the sheriff's office. The defendant is not expected to put in an appearance during the session. However, he will be taken into custody based on the outstanding warrant.

When conducting arrests under such legal directive, the police officer need not have the active warrant with him. However, the person who is to be taken into custody has to be told about the issue of the directive and the charges under which he is being apprehended. Also, law enforcement agents will have to make a copy of the arrest warrant available as soon as reasonably possible.

Outstanding warrants from MA are valid for execution in any place within the state. Also, these decrees stay in effect till they can be served. An arrest warrant is considered executed when the perpetrator is placed under custodial detention.

How to Search For an Inmate in the Massachusetts Prison System

The Massachusetts Department of Corrections offers the facility to look for information on inmates who are currently serving time in a state penitentiary. You can also find details on criminals who have been let out after the completion of the sentence or on parole. This data is offered free of cost and it is possible to avail it through three channels.

However, the applicant will require the full name of the inmate and the number of his commitment into the state's correctional system. This identification number is available on all communications received from the DOC, so if you know the inmate, you should have no problems in accessing data pertaining to him. Once you have the required details, you can contact the agency:

In person or through mail: You can initiate prisoner search by visiting the office of the DOC in person or writing to them at Massachusetts Department of Corrections, 50 Maple St., Suite 3, Milford, MA 01757.

Through Vine link: This service is not offered by the agency but it is quite reliable and it can be used to find details on inmates from all over the country. The website for the service is available at

Phone inquiries: You can also get in touch with the department by calling them on 877-421-8463. Once again, you will need to provide the full name and/or the commitment number of the prisoner to get information about him.

Typically, such an inquiry will generate details on the charges filed against the offender, the sentencing carried out, the amount of incarceration time left, the facility where the prisoner is being held, parole and release dates. Of course, you can also find a picture of the offender through the online service.

Who Can Search For Arrest Records and Warrants in Massachusetts?

Access to CORI is offered at varying levels depending on the applicant in question. Crime history records are made available to just about everybody from law enforcement agencies to commercial establishments and even individual applicants. In fact, some organizations are required by law to conduct such inquiries on their volunteers and employees.

CORI is offered through personal access, standard access, open access and required access which is further divided into levels 1,2,3 and 4. Of these, open access is offered to anybody who is interested in criminal history information and this is the most restricted access category hence the information found is quite limited and will be limited to arrest records, active warrants and charge related information from cases that have ended in a guilty verdict.

Some of the agencies that are allowed to access crime data at varying levels include:

  • All criminal justice entities including the police, the judiciary, the offices of the magistrate, judges and county clerks and state prosecutors
  • Non-profit or for profit establishments that work with children, disabled individuals and elderly people such as hospitals, day care facilities, nursing homes and pre-schools. Government agencies that work with these segments of the society are also legally bound to conduct crime history inquiries.
  • Since 2013, school districts and the Department of Early Education and Care are also required to get warrant searches done to find information on their employees
  • Apart from this, commercial agencies such as banks, security companies, insurance firms, operators of amusement rides, private investigators and installers of security systems are also required to use CORI checks.
  • Housing agencies are also allowed to use the CORI system to screen potential tenants and home owners for subsidized housing schemes.
  • Parents can get a CORI search done on child care service providers and people who are being hired to care for the elderly and physically challenged members of the household.
  • It is also possible for people to request a personal CORI report
  • Private employers and landlords are generally offered standard access to crime history data which is one notch above open access.

How to Request Records Under the Massachusetts Public Records Act?

If you are interested in launching a warrant search through CORI, there are two ways to use the system:

Online inquiries: The iCORI service available at is open to employers, justice agencies as well as individuals who are looking for personal crime history reports.On the web page, you will find links to register as an individual or an organization. Click on the one that is appropriate; you will need to offer some personal information at this point and choose a username, password and provide your email id.

Details on how to active your account will be sent to the email address offered by you. With your registration completed, you can use your log-in data to access the website. You should see the "add request" tab at this point; click on it to choose the purpose of your inquiry and furnish details about the subject. The next step is to provide payment as instructed. The CORI report can be viewed online or you can download it to your computer. For assistance, call on 617-660-4640.

Mail inquiries: It is also possible to get in touch with the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) to get a copy of your personal CORI report through mail. The request form can be downloaded at or you can call the agency on 617-660-4640 and request them to send the form to your home address.

The form will have to be filled and it must be signed in front of a public notary. A check of $25 issued in favor of the state of Massachusetts will have to be included with the form along with a business size, self addressed envelope. All of this will have to be sent to Department of Criminal Justice Information Services, 200 Arlington Street, Suite 2200, Chelsea, MA 02150. It will typically take about 2 weeks to receive a response to mailed in requests.

How Long Does An Arrest Record or Warrant Stay On File In Massachusetts?

Arrest warrants issued in Massachusetts do not go out of effect nor do trivial errors like printing mistakes or any other issues impact the powers of the order. The only time such a directive is recalled is when the errors seriously compromise the constitutional rights of the accused or if the probable cause on the basis of which the decree was released no longer holds true.

In other words, an active warrant is only returned when it has been served. As soon as arrests are made under such directives, the original copy of the order which is held by the police for execution is returned to the office of the magistrate that issued the decree. Unlike other judicial instruments, arrest warrants have perpetual validity and they can be served in any part of the commonwealth.