If you are a parent with young school age children, or wish to work at a school or volunteer with children and received a CWOF on a criminal charge, you should consider getting your CORI sealed.
A dismissed charge after a CWOF will still appear on a CORI check indefinitely to any organization that works with children or the elderly and has Level 2 Required CORI access.
If you are interested in helping with a school field trip, coaching a kids sports team a scouting volunteer, or many other activities, you may be rejected for failing a background check.
Organizations that have Level 2 Required CORI access that can see arrests and cases that were dismissed after a continuance (CWOF) include:
- All schools, public and private. For any volunteering or employment. From local public schools to employees at colleges like MIT.
- Massachusetts Youth Soccer, Little League Baseball, Pop Warner Football and all youth sports leagues
- Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts
- Overnight and day camps
- Many more
What is the process for getting a record sealed?
For a CWOF after the continuance period or anything before the 5 year misdemeanor period, we must petition the court and file a supporting affidavit before a judge who must approve the record seal.
We can argue the negative impact an incident on your background check might have on your home and family life.
Is the judge required to approve that the record can be sealed?
No, it is entirely up to his or her discretion. So we will prepare the most compelling argument for why it would be a hardship, and how you have learned your lesson and there is no risk of further incidents.
If we can anticipate potential harm for future prospects and opportunities from someone doing a background check, that helpful. If you’ve unfortunately already been harmed, such as been rejected for a job or opportunity, that is an even more compelling case to approve that your record should be sealed.
But ultimately we can’t guarantee that the judge will approve it.
Will a Record Seal Solve this Problem?
Yes, for Massachusetts CORI checks it will. When your arrest, continuance or CWOF is sealed, a CORI search will return “No Adult Criminal Records on File”. There is no indication of any record, or suggestion that it might have been sealed.
The only background searcher that could possibly still see seal your sealed incident would be law enforcement, such as for the purposes of hiring or getting a license to carry a firearm, searches for the purposes of adopting a child, and, background checks for rideshare drivers (Uber/Lyft).
What offenses will get me rejected from volunteering or getting hired?
There is no way to know. All organizations have their own criteria for suitability if an incident pops up on a CORI. They can consider whatever factors they want, including the seriousness of offense, time since the incident, the nature and relevance of the volunteer position being sought, etc.
Specifically, Massachusetts Youth Soccer has a detailed policy about CORI checks and what is considered a failure. Their rejection criteria reasonably include all violent and sexual charges such as indecent assault, open and gross lewdness, lewd and lascivious, and those involving risk to children, such as a violation of a restraining order involving a physical threat to children. A charge of intent to distribute narcotics or controlled substances is also on their list, and they reserve the right to include other incidents.
The Girl Scouts of Eastern Mass policy states that expected violent or sexual offences are disqualifying, and, at their discretion they may also exclude someone with “drug and alcohol related offenses, or other serious offenses or history that is not conducive with the organization’s mission, values or the safety and well-being of girls”.
A CWOF on a negligent operation of a motor vehicle after a minor car accident might not concern some reviewers, a domestic assault incident or OUI might disqualify you. It simply depends on the policies of the organization.
Ultimately, you may never know what happened if you are rejected, or why.
Even if you have an incident that ultimately may not disqualify you from volunteering, for some people it is worth getting the criminal court record sealed so that your community friends and neighbors who are reviewing the CORI don’t find out about your potentially embarrassing minor brush with the law.
What about private background checks?
There isn’t anything we can do about 3rd parties that collect data on court records, public news stories, police logs, or other sources. Unfortunately, these exist and can be inaccurate and nearly impossible to correct or update.
While some organizations do use these (National Little League uses First Advantage private screening, Massachusetts Girl Scouts uses Verified Volunteers as well as CORI), most will rely on the official Massachusetts CORI data primarily.