How to Write a Sworn Statement for a New York Record Sealing Application

Most people expect a criminal conviction to have immediate consequences, such as fines, probation, or jail time. But even after you’ve finished your sentence, your record can continue to negatively impact many areas of your life for years to come — from employment to housing to personal relationships.

Fortunately, many states recognize the need to give second chances under certain circumstances. In New York, this is achieved through record sealing statutes. Sealed records generally won’t appear on most background checks. You also won’t have to disclose the sealed records on most applications. This means you can:

  • submit applications to employers or landlords without disclosing your record;
  • improve your eligibility for financial assistance and other government programs;
  • improve your eligibility to enter certain professions that prohibit criminal records (such as becoming a police officer or firefighter); 
  • avoid the embarrassment of disclosing your record or failing background checks; and
  • apply to obtain a firearm.

To seal your records in New York, you must submit an application. And one of the most important pieces of that application is your Affidavit in Support of Sealing (also known as a “sworn statement”). Your sworn statement is a legal document in which you tell the court certain facts relevant to your record sealing application. 

This guide will walk you through how to write an effective sworn statement. First, you’ll get an overview of record sealing eligibility requirements and the application process. This will help you better understand the purpose of your sworn statement. You’ll then learn about the structure of a sworn statement and which topics are helpful to address.

Who’s eligible for record sealing in New York?

Before you prepare your record sealing application, you should confirm whether you’re eligible. You’re generally eligible to apply for record sealing if:

  • You’ve been crime-free for at least 10 years since your conviction or release (whichever is later)
  • You don’t have any pending criminal cases; and
  • You’ve been crime-free for at least 10 years since your conviction or release (whichever is later)
  • You don’t have any pending criminal cases; and
  • You’ve been crime-free for at least 10 years since your conviction or release (whichever is later)
  • You don’t have any pending criminal cases; and
  • You’ve been crime-free for at least 10 years since your conviction or release (whichever is later)
  • You don’t have any pending criminal cases; and
  • You have 2 or fewer total convictions on your criminal record, only 1 of which may be a felony.

Certain offenses (such as sex offenses, violent felonies, and serious felonies) are not eligible for sealing. For more information about New York’s record sealing eligibility requirements, check here.

How does the record sealing process work in New York?

New York’s record sealing application process is as follows:

  1. Complete and submit a Request for Criminal Certificate of Disposition to the clerk of the appropriate court for each case you want to seal. 
  2. Once you receive your Certificate of Disposition, complete a Notice of Motion in Support of Sealing and Affidavit in Support of Sealing (that is, your “sworn statement”). You can get these forms from the website of the New York State Unified Court System
  3. Serve the Notice of Motion in Support of Sealing, Affidavit in Support of Sealing, and any supporting documents to the District Attorney of the appropriate county or counties
  4. Complete the Affidavit of Service.
  5. File the complete sealing application (including the Affidavit of Service) with the appropriate court.
  6. If your sealing request is granted, confirm the changes were made to your criminal history record by submitting the Request for CPL 160.59 Seal Verification Form with a copy of the court’s signed seal order.

For more information about New York’s record sealing process, check here.

How do you structure a sworn statement?

As noted above, your Affidavit in Support of Sealing, or sworn statement, is an important part of your application. You can get an Affidavit in Support of Sealing form from the New York State Courts website. This form includes several statements confirming your eligibility for sealing. It also includes space to write why you believe your prior conviction(s) should be sealed. 

Note that you must write a statement explaining why you believe your records should be sealed. If you don’t write anything, your application will be automatically denied. 

To adequately explain your reasons for seeking record sealing, you will likely need more space than what’s provided on the court-provided form. In this case, you can write your statement separately. This guide assumes you will be writing a separate statement. 

Below is an overview of how to structure your separate sworn statement. You should write your statement in the first person and break it up into numbered paragraphs. How much you write will depend on your personal circumstances, but many statements end up being 2-3 pages long (with spaces between paragraphs).

  • Heading. At the top of your sworn statement, include a heading identifying the document, such as “SWORN STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF RECORD SEALING.”
  • Lead-in. Next, add the lead-in below. This language means that you’re making the statements that follow under an oath (or promise) to tell the truth.
    • “I, [Your Name], of full age, being duly sworn according to law, upon this oath depose and say:”
  • Confirmation of your identity. After the lead-in above comes your first numbered paragraph. This numbered paragraph should include a statement that you’re the party seeking to seal your records. For example:
    • “1. I am the Petitioner in the matter seeking to have my criminal record sealed.”
  • Brief description of the records you’re requesting to be sealed. Next, you should summarize your criminal record. Typically, this would include when and where you were arrested, the name of charges for which you were convicted, and your sentence. You can find these details on your Certificate of Disposition. 
    • Here’s an example: “2. On April 2, 2005, I was arrested in Kings County. On August 19, 2005, I pleaded guilty to Scheme to Defraud in the Second Degree, and on November 14, 2005, I was sentenced to a conditional discharge.”
  • Reasons you believe your records should be sealed. In the paragraphs that follow, you should explain all the reasons why you believe your records should be sealed. Generally, each paragraph should cover only one fact or point. Include as many paragraphs as necessary to explain your reasons. Just be sure to keep your statements short, organized, and to the point.
  • Summary paragraph requesting that the court grant your application. Your last numbered paragraph should include a brief summary of the points you made in your statement. You should also directly request record sealing.
  • Here’s an example: “10. I am seeking to have my record sealed so that I can advance in my career, secure safe housing, and take advantage of other opportunities to build a better life for me and my family. I also believe sealing my records will help alleviate the shame of having a criminal record that continues to harm my emotional well-being. For these reasons, I respectfully request this Honorable Court grant my application for record sealing.”

  • A statement swearing that everything you wrote is true and correct. Below the numbered paragraphs, include the following statement:
  • “I certify that the foregoing statements made by me are true and are made of my own free will. I am aware that if any of the foregoing statements made by me are willfully false, I am subject to punishment.”

This language certifies that you’re telling the truth in your statement. Note that making false statements in your affidavit is a violation of law (called “perjury”). Perjury is punishable by imprisonment, probation, and/or fines — so it’s important to be honest in your statement.

  • Signature and notary block. If you’re filing your record sealing application with the help of a lawyer, your lawyer should review your sworn statement before you sign it.

But once your sworn statement is finalized, you’ll have to sign it in front of a notary. The notary will also sign the document. Notaries at your bank will often provide their service for free. You can also often find notaries at public libraries, tax preparation offices, and shipping companies like The UPS Store.

Be sure not to sign your sworn statement before you meet the notary. The notary’s job is to confirm your identity and make sure the correct person is signing the document.

The signature and notary block on your sworn statement should look something like this:

signature section on NY swarn statement
Sworn Statement signing

What should you talk about in a record sealing sworn statement?

Your sworn statement is specific to you, your case, and the impact your record has had on your life. So only you can decide what to write. However, while writing your statement, it’s helpful to keep in mind the factors the court will consider when reviewing an application. These factors include: 

  • The amount of time that has passed since your conviction 
  • The circumstances around your offense(s) that you’re requesting to be sealed
  • The seriousness of the offense(s) that you’re requesting to be sealed
  • The circumstances and seriousness of any other convictions
  • Your character, including any steps you’ve taken towards rehabilitation (such as participating in treatment programs, work, schooling, community service, or other volunteer programs)
  • Any statements made by the victims of the offense(s) that you’re requesting to be sealed
  • The impact record sealing will have upon your rehabilitation, your ability to be productive, and your successful reintegration into society
  • The impact your record sealing may have on public safety and the public’s confidence in and respect for the law

In your statement, it’s especially important to talk about 1) the positive steps you’ve taken towards rehabilitation, and 2) how your record has hindered your ability to be productive and reintegrate into society. Potential topics for each of these factors are discussed in the sections below. 

Describing your positive steps towards rehabilitation

The court will only grant your record sealing if it believes you’re deserving of a second chance and that you’re not likely to commit crimes again. So it’s critical to show that you’re remorseful for your behavior and that you take full responsibility for your actions. 

You should also describe specific steps you’ve taken since your conviction to stay out of trouble and lead a productive life. Below are some possible topics with examples. You can cover as many topics as are relevant to you, but be sure to keep your statements short, organized, and to the point. 

  • The circumstances around your offense and conviction. 
    • Describing the circumstances around your offense is not required. However, it may help contrast your previous situation with your current situation. This, in turn, can show that you’re not likely to repeat the same behavior that led to your offense. However, take care not to make excuses for your behavior or blame others. 
    • Here’s an example: “When I committed my offense over 20 years ago, I was an 18-year-old college student. One of my friends introduced me to a return fraud scheme, and unfortunately, I decided to participate to make some extra money. At the time, I didn’t appreciate how serious my actions were. But since then, I have matured a great deal. I know now how harmful my offense was to the victims and my community, and I deeply regret my involvement.”
  • Changes to your social circle. People are more likely to commit crimes if they socialize with others who commit crimes. So to show your commitment to staying out of trouble, it’s helpful to describe any efforts to purge your social circle of bad influences. 
    • Here’s an example: “At the time of my offense, I was an immature 19-year-old. I didn’t have much parental guidance and was heavily influenced by the wrong crowd. After serving time, I knew I had to be careful about who I spent time with, or I could find myself behind bars again. As a result, I stopped hanging around with my old friends, and instead surrounded myself with more positive influences.”
  • Participation in drug or alcohol treatment programs. If your crimes were related to drug or alcohol use, describe the efforts you’ve made to stay sober. This can include completing a rehabilitation program, attending support groups, and/or taking other steps to lead a healthier life. 
    • Here’s an example:“At the time of my offense, I had been addicted to drugs for over 5 years. My addiction destroyed my sense of judgment, and I stole to fund my habit. However, after I was convicted, I committed to getting clean once and for all. I successfully completed a drug rehab program, and, with the support of my family, I have stayed clean ever since.”
  • Participation in therapy, counseling, or anger management programs. Therapy, counseling, and anger management classes can show that you’ve reflected on your choices and that you’re serious about changing your behavior. If you’ve participated in any such programs, talk briefly about what you’ve learned and how it’s changed your life. 
    • Here’s an example:“At the time of my offense, I didn’t know how to properly deal with my anger. But after my conviction, I knew I had to make a change. I started seeing a counselor who helped me work through the stresses that were contributing to my anger. She also helped me learn techniques for managing my emotions in a healthy way. I’m much happier now, and all my relationships have benefited from my counseling, too.”
  • Your education or training. Education and other training can show your commitment to becoming a productive member of society. You can describe any education or training that you’ve completed, you’re currently undertaking, or that you’re planning to pursue in the future. 
    • Here’s an example: “After serving my sentence, I went back to college and earned my bachelor’s degree in business. I graduated near the top of my class and got a good job right out of school. Over several years, I worked my way up to my current position as a project manager. I’m now planning on applying for MBA programs to further advance my career.”
  • Your work history. Maintaining employment shows commitment to leading a productive life. So it can be helpful to talk about your work history, including work-related accomplishments such as promotions or awards. If you’re self-employed or an entrepreneur, you can also talk about businesses that you’ve started, and any successes you’ve had. 
    • Here’s an example: “I’ve maintained steady employment ever since my conviction. Within a year of joining my current employer, I became one of the top sales people. I’m now a sales manager and lead a team of 10 sales representatives.”
  • Participation in faith-based programs. Many people turn to their faith to help them make more positive life choices. If this is the case for you, describe the role your faith plays in your life, and how it has helped you.
    • Here’s an example: “Since my conviction, I have recommitted to my Christian faith. This has helped me focus on making better decisions, building a life I’m proud of, and making a positive impact on others. My church community is a great source of comfort and support for me, and I also try to give back by regularly organizing church activities.”
  • Volunteer/charity work and community involvement. Volunteer work and community involvement show that you’re actively making positive contributions to society. So if you do any volunteer or charity work, talk about it. This can include working with animals, volunteering for crisis hotlines, participating in environmental projects, and more. 
    • Here’s an example: “For the past few years, I have been volunteering at an organization that provides support and legal services to the homeless. I’m happy that I can make a difference in the lives of others, especially because I know what it’s like to need that kind of help. My volunteer work has also helped me learn new skills and form valuable relationships with my fellow volunteers.”
  • Participation in sports or other hobbies. Playing sports and nurturing hobbies are often helpful ways to direct your energy and improve mental health. They have many other benefits as well, such as improving self-esteem, providing a sense of achievement, and providing a positive social outlet. If any sports or hobbies played a role in helping you stay crime-free, describe how.
    • Here’s an example: “Since my conviction, I have focused on finding positive ways to spend my time, and sports have been a big part of that. I currently help organize a recreational soccer league and regularly play basketball, too. Playing sports has helped me feel healthier physically and mentally. It’s also helped me find a great group of supportive friends.”
  • Your family life. Families often help motivate people to get back on the right path after convictions. If this is true for you, you can describe your family life and how your family has influenced you to make better choices. 
    • Here’s an example: “My conviction wasn’t just hard for me, but for my family, too. I deeply regret the stress and financial burden my actions caused, and I am committed to never letting that happen again. Since my offense, I have worked hard to provide a better life for my family and serve as a good role model for my children.”

The list above is not exhaustive. If any other accomplishments, awards, or actions show your progress towards rehabilitation, feel free to describe them.

man put right hand over heart, sworn statement

Describing the negative impact of your criminal record

Although describing your efforts towards rehabilitation is crucial, you shouldn’t stop there. You should also describe how, despite your accomplishments, your criminal record has hindered your ability to achieve your goals. This will help show that sealing your record is necessary for your full rehabilitation and successful reintegration into society.

Below are some examples of how your record may have negatively impacted your life: 

  • You were rejected for employment.
  • You’re ineligible for certain jobs that you’d like to pursue.
  • You were denied promotion or otherwise can’t advance in your career.
  • You’re unable to qualify for certain professional licenses that you’d like to obtain.
  • You’ve been denied housing or don’t qualify for certain housing.
  • You’re ineligible for financial assistance or government programs that would improve the quality of life for you and your family. 
  • You feel too ashamed to pursue employment, housing, or other opportunities that ask about criminal history or require a background check.
  • You feel limited in your ability to provide a better life for yourself and your family. 
  • You feel shame or embarrassment whenever anyone discovers your record.
  • You fear the judgment of others when you have to disclose your record or undergo a background check. 
  • Your record otherwise impacts you mentally or continues to harm your emotional well-being.

Again, the above list is not exhaustive. But in each situation that you discuss, you should try to describe specific incidents. 

For example, was there a specific job you wanted, but were denied because of your record? Have you been rejected by a particular landlord because of your history? Or was there an incident where you had to disclose your record, and felt shame or embarrassment as a result? 

In each case, describe what happened so that the court can better understand why sealing would be helpful for you. 

What supporting documents do you need for your sworn statement?

It’s also helpful (but not required) to include documentation of the details that you describe in your sworn statement. Examples include:

  • Employment verification
  • Documentation of community service, volunteer, or charity work
  • Certificates of completion from drug or alcohol treatment programs
  • Educational transcripts or certificates of successful completion of training programs

Supporting letters from those familiar with your situation can also help corroborate your sworn statement and provide additional details about your rehabilitative efforts. You can get such letters from:

  • Teachers/professors, job training program supervisors, or administrators who can talk positively about your motivation to learn, attitude, character, ability to get along with others, attendance record, punctuality, grades, and other achievements.
  • Job supervisors or coworkers/colleagues who can talk about your job responsibilities, motivation, attitude, character, ability to get along with others, attendance records, punctuality, reliability, promotions, and other achievements.
  • Your parole or probation officer, if they can talk about your compliance with parole or probation requirements (including recent negative drug tests), attitude, and motivation.
  • Your priest, minister, imam, rabbi, or other spiritual leader, if they can talk about your character and your participation in the community, including any leadership roles or volunteer work.
  • Supervisors or administrators overseeing your volunteer work at a nonprofit, charity, or school who can talk about your contributions to the organization and your dedication to your volunteer work.
  • Your counselor, therapist, or doctor, if they can talk about your participation in a program or other treatment to deal with the issues that contributed to your criminal offense, including your attendance, motivation and commitment to change, ability to get along with others, acceptance of responsibility, and understanding of your past behavior.

Examples of Sworn Statements

Below are a few examples of sworn statements. These are for reference only — remember that your sworn statement should be unique to you, your case, and the impact your record has had on your life. 

Example 1

Why it works:

In this example, the petitioner accepts responsibility for his actions and expresses remorse.

He then goes on to discuss the positive steps he’s taken to change his life, including earning his degree and removing negative influences from his social circle. 

The petitioner also discusses the various ways that his criminal record continues to negatively impact his life. In particular, he believes he has lost job opportunities due to background checks, he’s barred from pursuing certain career paths, and he’s unable to pursue certain business opportunities. These barriers have, in turn, affected his earning potential. The petitioner also talks about how his record has impacted his housing situation and his family life.

Example 2

Why it works:

In this example, the petitioner provides context for her offense. She expresses regret for her actions, and accepts full responsibility for the consequences. She then describes the steps she’s taken towards rehabilitation. Specifically, she delved into her Christian faith, and she also went through counseling to better understand her behavior and learn how to make better choices. 

The petitioner then discusses the reasons why she’s seeking record sealing. She explains that she believes her record has lost her opportunities and negatively affects her emotional and financial well-being. She also describes how her offense has impacted her family, and expresses her desire to protect them from future stress. 

Example 3

Why it works:

In this example, the petitioner also provides context for his offense. He talks about his regret and cooperation with authorities, and he makes it clear he understands how harmful his actions were. He also explains how he’s worked hard to become a productive member of society, including advancing as far as he can in his career.

The petitioner then talks about how his record has hindered him from reaching his full potential. For example, he talks about how his record has negatively impacted his career prospects and housing opportunities. He also expresses a desire to serve as a role model for the children in his life, and to escape the shame and stigma of his record. 

Need help preparing your New York record sealing application?

Your sworn statement can have a big impact on your record sealing application, so it’s important to put thought and care into it. If you need help preparing your application, a New York criminal defense attorney can help guide you through the process. 
At Rosenblum Law, we understand the far-reaching effects a criminal record can have on a person’s life and future. Our skilled criminal defense attorneys have helped many other people put their past mistakes behind them through successful record sealing applications. If you’re ready to get a fresh start by sealing your records, send us an email or call us today at 888-815-3649.

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