Massachusetts Background Checks and Public Records

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The State of Massachusetts

Though technically a coastal state on the Atlantic Ocean, Massachusetts is officially referred to as a commonwealth. It is located in the New England region of the northeastern part of the United States and is the most populous state in that area.

Boston, Massachusetts’ capital city, is considered a global leader in the fields of education, finance, engineering, biotechnology, and maritime trade. Hence, the city, as well as the state in general, attracts outsiders, foreigners, and tourists. This is why when acquiring public records or conducting background checks, be sure to check at other locations including neighboring areas. 

Counties in Massachusetts 

BarnstableEssexMiddlesexPlymouth
BerkshireFranklinNantucketSuffolk
BristolHampdenNorfolkWorcester
DukesHampshire

Where To Get Public Records In Massachusetts

While there’s no central repository of public records in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, each agency governing these records assigns an access supervisor or officer.

The Department of Criminal Justice Information Service manages the iCORI system, an online-based page that houses criminal records or criminal history information. You can find incarceration, conviction, and arrest records on this website.

For inmate records, you can coordinate with the Victim Information and Notification Everyday Link (VINELink). You can also visit the facility where the inmate is held. These records show if an inmate is on probation or parole and whether they have been released or escaped. 

The Massachusetts Courts collate and keep information from the Supreme Judicial Court, Appeals Court, and Trial Court. You can find in here transcripts, warrants, pleadings, motions, and the like.

If you need property-related records, you can visit the Secretary of the Commonwealth Massachusetts Land Records site, or your local Registry of Deeds office. For property tax records, coordinate with the county assessor’s office where the property is located.

The Registry of Vital Records and Statistics governs the vital records in Massachusetts. These records entail information regarding births, deaths, marriages, and divorces. 

Accessing and Acquiring Public Records in Massachusetts

Public records in Massachusetts are requested for various reasons, including employment, license issuance, child adoption, tenant screening, and more. Regardless of the purpose, anyone can access and acquire such records as stated by the Massachusetts Public Records Law

Interests and requests for these records can be accommodated manually or electronically. While some records can be accessed online, certain departments require formal requests which can be sent via mail, e-mail, or received in-person. State laws allow issuing agencies ten days to respond to requests.

Search fees through these government bodies do not exceed $25/hour, and each page is charged at $0.05. Note that you also have an option to use a reputable and reliable third-party people search engine to acquire public records.

Massachusetts Background Check Reports

Background checks are handled by the Department of Criminal Justice Information Service through the agency’s Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) system, also known as the iCORI system.

Background reports can be generated via name-based or fingerprint-based checking. To submit a request, you create your iCORI account, provide the needed information, and settle the $25.00 one-time fee. You may also ask for a standard or criminal background check via mail by filling out the iCORI Request Form.

Aside from the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Massachusetts also adopts a Ban-the-Box law. This policy prohibits any employer from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history during the hiring process or interview.

Should an employer choose to run a credit check which could affect the hiring decision, the applicant must be notified within 10-days, including all the acquired information, the applicant’s rights, and the CRA’s contact information.

FCRA-accredited agencies require written consent from the person being checked on before running reports. Should you opt to use third-party non-FCRA-accredited search engines, you won’t need any.

Massachusetts Official Websites

Frequently Asked Questions About Massachusetts Background Checks

How far back do background checks go in Massachusetts?

For Criminal Background Checks in Massachusetts, they are restricted to the last 7 years. 

How do I get a criminal background check in Massachusetts?

There are two types of criminal background check in Massachusetts: Fingerprint-Supported Criminal Record Check and Name-Based Criminal Record Check. 

For Name-Based Criminal Record Checks, you can view your own criminal convictions/non-convictions, civil and non-incarcerable offenses, and pending cases. 

For Fingerprint-Supported Criminal Record Checks, you can view your own arrest history, past/current/pending convictions & non-convictions, and out-of-state, Federal, and International arrests and charges. 
To request such checks, you must do so through the Massachusetts iCORI Service.

What are public records in Massachusetts?

In general, public records are documents that are accessible or able to be requested by citizens. In Massachusetts, anyone can request public records from the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Records Access Officer (RAO), Secretary of the Commonwealth, and Public Records Request Database.

Can you get a felony sealed in Massachusetts?

Yes, it is possible to request a felony be sealed in the state of Massachusetts. To qualify, it must be 7 years after you were found guilty or after your jail sentence. Such requests must be made through the Massachusetts Probation Service.