What Is the CORI Law in Massachusetts?

Man filling out a criminal background check application in Massachusetts.

The Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) law in Massachusetts governs the access, distribution, and use of criminal record information. It is designed to ensure that criminal records are used fairly, promoting opportunities for rehabilitation and reintegration into society. The law restricts who can access CORI, how it can be used, and mandates strict confidentiality to protect individuals’ privacy rights. It provides individuals the right to obtain and correct their own records, requires organizations to have a valid reason for requesting CORI, and enforces penalties for misuse of such information.

What is CORI?

The Basics of CORI

CORI stands for Criminal Offender Record Information. Managed by the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS), this database includes records of:

  • past criminal court appearances,
  • convictions, and
  • incarcerations in state prisons.

These records are a critical resource for employers, landlords, and other entities that require background checks.

The Scope of Available Criminal Offender Record Information

CORI records are extensive but are not publicly accessible in full. Access to detailed records is limited to certain entities like:

  • schools,
  • public housing authorities, and
  • Massachusetts employers,

under specific conditions to ensure privacy and fairness.

Restraining Orders and CORI

There are two types of Restraining Orders in Massachusetts, a:

  • 209A Abuse Prevention Order, and a
  • 258E Harassment Prevention Order.

Both give you protection from someone who is abusing or harassing you.

These Orders are civil in nature. Therefore, they do not show up on your CORI. A violation of such Orders, however, is criminal. Therefore, a violation will appear on your CORI.

Help Getting a Restraining Order in Massachusetts

If you’d like help getting a Restraining Order without paying an expensive attorney, we can help. With our Legal Coaching we can walk you through every step to make sure you’re ready for your hearing. The first thing to do is see if you qualify for a Massachusetts Restraining Order. Click on the link below to see if you qualify for either type of Restraining Order.

Accessing CORI

Who Can Request CORI Checks?

Under state law, a wide range of entities can conduct CORI checks. This includes:

  • government agencies,
  • schools, and
  • businesses that transport school-age children.

Private sector employers also have the right to request a CORI check, but there are strict guidelines they must follow.

CORI Requests and Procedures

To request a CORI check, one must complete a CORI request form provided by the DCJIS. This process is safeguarded by various laws to ensure that such information is used ethically and legally.

Legal Framework
Governing CORI

State and Federal Regulations

CORI regulations are governed by both state and federal law, ensuring that criminal history information is used and disseminated responsibly. Massachusetts law, supplemented by federal guidelines, provides a framework that balances the need for public safety with privacy rights.

Significant Changes in the CORI Law

Recent changes to the CORI law aim to improve the accuracy of criminal records and the fairness of their use. These reforms include updated procedures for CORI checks and expanded rights for individuals to review and correct their records.

Rights Under CORI

Accessing and Correcting Your CORI Report

Individuals have the right to obtain their own CORI report from the DCJIS and can challenge and correct inaccuracies. This is crucial for ensuring that your record is used appropriately during criminal background checks.

Protection Against Discrimination

Massachusetts’ “Ban the Box” laws prohibit employers from asking about criminal history on initial job applications. This aims to prevent discrimination against prospective employees with past criminal cases.

CORI and Employment

Using CORI in the Hiring Process

Employers must follow strict guidelines when using CORI in employment decisions. They are required to provide copies of CORI reports used in any adverse decision to the job candidate, allowing a chance to correct errors.

Responsibilities of Employers

Employers must keep CORI information in a secure location and ensure that only authorized personnel can access it. Misuse of CORI data can result in significant penalties under state regulations.

Sealing and Expungement
of Records

Overview of Sealing Criminal Records

Sealing criminal records through the CORI system can help individuals mitigate the long-term consequences of past criminal offenses. Once sealed, a record is not accessible to most employers and housing providers.

The Expungement Process

Expungement offers a more complete form of relief than sealing, as it leads to the removal of criminal cases from public records. This process is governed by the Supreme Judicial Court and requires meeting specific eligibility criteria.

Practical Tips for Managing CORI

Monitoring and Maintaining Your CORI Record

It is advisable to regularly check your CORI report for errors and to be aware of your rights regarding its use. Keeping informed can protect you from potential misuse of your criminal history.

Seeking Legal Advice

Understanding the nuances of CORI regulations can be complex. Individuals dealing with CORI-related issues are encouraged to seek legal advice to navigate the process effectively.


Massachusetts’ CORI law plays a critical role in how criminal background information is managed and used. By understanding and properly managing your CORI, you can ensure that your past does not unfairly define your future opportunities.

Legal Disclaimer

This article is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult with an attorney to discuss your specific circumstances and receive tailored guidance.

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