Expunging a Criminal Record in New York

Expunging a Criminal Record

Technically, expunging a criminal record is not permitted in the state of New York. It is possible, however, to have a criminal record sealed, which means that it will not be destroyed, but will be hidden from public view.

Only certain individuals qualify for record sealing, so if you have questions about what is required to have your record sealed, it is critical to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who is well-versed in state law and can explain your legal options going forward.

Sealing a Record

Unlike expungement, which results in the permanent destruction of a person’s criminal record, sealing only closes the record, which means that the public cannot see it. Although, all fingerprint cards, official records, booking photos, and DNA samples will be destroyed, sealed records are still available to certain entities, including:

  • Law enforcement;
  • Firearm licensing agencies;
  • Prospective employers when the position requires an employee to carry a firearm;
  • Hospital child care facilities; and

Otherwise, when a record is sealed, the person’s civil rights will automatically be reinstated.

Some types of cases are automatically sealed, including:

  • Cases where the defendant received a good result, which includes an acquittal, a dismissal, any orders setting aside the verdict, and an order vacating a judgment;
  • Crimes committed by minors who are between the ages of seven and 16 years old;
  • Crimes committed by youthful offenders who are between the ages of 16 and 18 years old; and
  • Traffic infractions, with the exception of Driving While Ability Impaired and Loitering for the Purpose of Engaging in a Prostitution Offense.

Convictions for felony and misdemeanor crimes cannot be sealed unless a crime was committed because of a substance abuse problem, in which case, the person must have completed an approved treatment program before filing a petition with the court. It’s also important to keep in mind that out-of-state convictions and federal arrests are not part of a resident’s New York criminal record, so the state’s sealing records do not apply.

Filing a Petition

To seal a record, a person must obtain a copy of his or her rap sheet and then file a petition with the court, which requires an explanation of the facts of the case and proof of completion of a rehabilitation program. If a judge approves the request, all qualified records will be sealed. In some cases, the court may request additional information before granting or denying a petition.

Alternatives to Record Sealing

Those who do not automatically qualify for sealing can apply for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities, which will not seal petitioners’ records, but will allow them to regain their rights. However, only those who have not been convicted of more than one felony in New York are eligible to apply.

New York residents who have been convicted of two or more felonies also have the option of requesting a Certificate of Good Conduct, which eliminates employment and license restrictions. These certificates indicate that the holder is reformed and so will not automatically be considered ineligible for a job based on his or her prior convictions.

However, this is not the same as having your record sealed, which means that if asked on an application, you will still have to explain any previous arrests or convictions.

Contact an Experienced New York Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Having a criminal record can make it difficult to secure employment and find housing. Fortunately, eligible individuals may be able to have their records sealed, so if you were convicted of a crime and believe that you are eligible to have your record sealed, please contact the Law Offices of George Vomvolakis at 212-682-0700 today.