Massachusetts State Background Check

Finding the right candidates to hire through a careful screening process is an important step for every business owner. Making these choices requires information that goes beyond what an applicant lists on their resume. For that reason, criminal background checks are a highly useful tool when making hiring choices.

Data Coverage Map

Massachusetts law concentrates this data in the Criminal Record Information Department, which maintains name-based records in a system called CORI. Due to state law and other limitations, cannot conduct state-wide background checks in Massachusetts on behalf of our clients. We recommend using our instantly searchable database as a strong starting point for your research.

This search returns information from the Massachusetts sex offender registry for all counties in the state, including Worcester, Middlesex, and Essex. This is the only instant product we provide for Massachusetts, but you can further expand your research by ordering a direct court search.

What may be reported on a state criminal history search?

  • Jurisdiction where record is recorded
  • Case number
  • Defendant
  • Charge
  • Filing date
  • Degree of offense, such as a misdemeanor
  • Disposition
  • Disposition date
  • Sentence

Criminal Record Restrictions

Any employer who obtains CORI information for employment purposes wishes to consider criminal history information during the hiring process must be aware of the following restrictions instituted by the state of Massachusetts.

Arrest Records

Arrests not correlated with a conviction are inadmissible in the hiring process and may not be considered. Employers must specifically state on applications that sealed records do not have to be disclosed.

Ban the Box

In 2010, then-governor Deval Patrick signed into law a sweeping ban the box rule that applies to public and private employers in the state. This legislation redefined the type of criminal records the state can provide to employers. Under this law, employers may not ask about convictions on any initial application except where required by law. Businesses must provide applicants with a complete copy of their report if they will be questioned about the report during an interview.

Conviction Records

Employers face broad restrictions on what type of conviction data they may consider, and Massachusetts CORI files omit information under these rules. Misdemeanor convictions older than five years and felony convictions older than ten years will not be included and cannot be considered. Additionally, some convictions, such as a first offense for public intoxication, are not considered acceptable for making employment decisions.

Other Requirements

Any business conducting more than five background checks annually must have an established written policy governing their processes. This policy must formalize the procedure of providing applicants with notice in the event of an adverse employment decision. The policy must also cover supplying applicants with the CORI file and information on how to apply to the state for record corrections.


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