A criminal conviction in New York State can have far-reaching negative consequences. Being convicted of even a single misdemeanor offense means having a permanent criminal record, which can impact one’s ability to obtain housing, get a job, receive financial aid, and much more.
Thankfully, in 2017 New York passed an expansive new law (CPL 160.59) that makes sealing one’s criminal record possible. While certain offenses trigger an automatic seal after a set time period, the new law allows individuals to apply to have a wider range of crimes and violations hidden from the general public.
It’s important to note that there is still a limit as to how many records can be sealed and the kinds of offenses that are eligible. Moreover, a person must wait 10 years after conviction (not including time served in jail or prison) before applying.
What Crimes Cannot Be Sealed in New York?
Records of the following crimes, as defined under CPL 160.59.1(a), and further outlined on the Sealing Application, are not eligible to be sealed:
|Aggravated Sexual Abuse||Menacing a Police Officer or Peace Officer|
|Assault||Placing a False Bomb or Hazardous Substance|
|Assault on a Judge||Predatory Sexual Assault|
|Assault on a Peace Officer, Police Officer, Fireman or Emergency Medical Services Professional||Predatory Sexual Assault Against a Child|
|Conspiracy||Reckless Assault of a Child|
|Criminal Possession of a Weapon||Robbery|
|Criminal Sale of a Firearm with the Aid of a Minor||Sexual Abuse|
|Criminal Sexual Act||Sexual Crimes Involving a Child|
|Criminal Use of a Firearm||Sexual Misconduct|
|Criminally Negligent Homicide||Sexually Motivated Felony|
|Forcible Touching||Soliciting or Providing Support for an Act of Terrorism|
|Intimidating a Victim or Witness||Strangulation|
|Labor Trafficking||Vehicular Manslaughter|
|Making a Terroristic Threat||Any other Class A, B, C, D, or E violent felony offense|
|Manslaughter||Any other crime that requires one to register as a sex offender|
As exhaustive as this list may seem, a wide variety of offenses are still eligible. Convictions for offenses such as theft, shoplifting, disorderly conduct, drug possession, simple assault, public intoxication and vandalism are all eligible convictions for sealing. In addition, charges that would be considered violations and not crimes, such as loitering, hazing in the second degree, trespassing, and illegally posting advertisements are also eligible.
Crimes for which a person was charged but not convicted are automatically sealed.
How Long Must I Wait to Have My NY Criminal Record Sealed?
As mentioned, a person must not have been convicted of a crime for at least 10 years before he/she can apply to have their criminal record sealed. Note that 10-year timeframe does not include any time the person may have spent incarcerated. This is true even if the time served was not for the crime(s) one is looking to seal.
How Many Crimes Can I Have Sealed in New York?
New York only allows a person to seal their criminal record if it has two or less criminal convictions on it. In addition, only one of those convictions can be for a felony. Moreover, any felony on the above-mentioned list is not eligible to be sealed.
A person with more than two criminal convictions can still have their record sealed if the charges are related to only one or two criminal incidents.
How Do I Get My Criminal Record Sealed in New York?
The process for having one’s criminal record sealed in New York is as follows:
- Fill out the application and provide any required supporting documents. These would include the Certificate of Disposition for the conviction(s), a sworn statement of the reasons the conviction should be sealed, and any other documentation that supports the argument for sealing.
- Submit the application to the court presided over the criminal offense(s). If the judge who presided over the case is still at that court, the application should be addressed to him/her. If multiple crimes were tried at different courts, the application should go to the court that tried the more serious crime.
- Submit copy of the application to the District Attorney (DA) of the county where the conviction occurred. If the DA objects to the application, he/she has 45 days to notify the court.
- If the judge does not summarily deny the application, a hearing may be requested. If the DA files an objection, then a hearing will be required.
- If a hearing is requested, then the applicant and/or his/her attorney will present additional evidence and arguments for why the records should be sealed.
- Eventually, the judge will issue a ruling either granting or denying the sealing of records.
What Factors are Considered in Sealing Records in New York?
The judge will weigh the following factors when determining whether records should be sealed or not.
- The amount of time since the last conviction.
- The severity of the offense(s) and the circumstances surrounding them.
- Any other convictions or violations on record.
- Any measures taken to reintegrate into society, including records of employment, schooling, participation in community service or other volunteer efforts.
- Statements made by the victim(s) of the offense in question.
- Whether and how sealing the record will support a successful reintegration into society.
- The potential impact sealing the record could have on public safety and the public’s confidence in law enforcement and the judicial process.
What Happens After My Criminal Record is Sealed?
When a NY criminal record is sealed, all material related to the conviction are destroyed. This includes fingerprints, mug-shots, and DNA samples. Note that a file regarding the conviction(s) still exists, but is isolated and can only be seen under limited circumstances.
Do I Need an Attorney to Get My Criminal Record Sealed in NY?
While it is possible to complete the process on one’s own, an attorney can ensure the application is a strong as possible (and error-free), maximizing one’s chances of getting a favorable ruling. In addition, if a hearing is requested, an attorney is a great asset to have. Judges and prosecutors are experts at picking apart arguments and finding flaws in a person’s reasoning and explanations. Some DAs see it as in their best interest to ensure criminal records are not sealed. An experienced attorney will know how best to present arguments that will assuage a judge or prosecutor’s concerns about sealing the records.
Can I Seal a Juvenile Record in New York?
Yes. In fact, in many cases juvenile records should automatically seal. Keep in mind that, even when a juvenile record should seal, it does not always happen. This is usually an error that can be fixed. However, there are some juvenile records that cannot be sealed. For more information, check out our page on sealing juvenile records in NY.
Can Arrest Records Be Sealed in NY?
If an arrest does not result in a conviction—e.g., the charges are dropped or one is found not guilty by a judge—the record should seal automatically. If the record does result in a conviction, then the record of the arrest, then any successfully sealing of the conviction will also include the record of the arrest.
Sealing Drug Crimes in New York
Drug-related misdemeanor and felony offenses in New York can be sealed, provided the individual completes a Judicial Diversion Program, DTAP (Drug Treatment Alternative to Treatment Program), or a similar substance abuse treatment program recognized by the court. In addition, the person must complete any additional sentencing and not have any other pending charges against him/her. Learn more about sealing drug crimes in New York.
Ten Years Is a Long Time to Wait; What Can I Do In the Meantime?
While sealing one’s record is the only way to completely put one’s past indiscretions behind them, there are options that are available sooner. A Certificate of Good Conduct or a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities can lift some of the restrictions imposed by a criminal conviction in New York.
Who Should I Contact?
If you or a loved one wants to have their NY criminal record sealed, contact the attorneys of the Rosenblum Law today. Our skilled criminal defense attorneys have helped many people in similar situations. They will defend your constitutional rights and offer you the best chance to put your past mistakes behind you. E-mail or Call us today at 888-815-3649.