If you have been tried and convicted of a crime, it’s highly possible that you could have your records sealed. Some states allow for an outright expungement, but New York does not. However, having your records sealed is along the same lines as an expungement. Of course, each case is different and there are never any guarantee, but it does not hurt to consult with a criminal defense attorney in order to determine if you qualify to have your records sealed under New York State law.
Sealing your record is just one way of trying to right your wrong. Even though you may have pled guilty or you may have been convicted of a crime years ago, depending on the situation, you could be eligible to withdraw your plea or request that your conviction is vacated, which could result in an outright dismissal of the charges.
Who Qualifies for Record Sealing
You may be eligible to have your records sealed if you were not incarcerated in state prison. Also, you must have completed any court-imposed probation, paid restitution and all of the fines and not have any new charges pending in court. Some crimes are not eligible for record expungement, including serious traffic offenses or sexual offenses.
How Record Sealing Can Help
Having your records sealed does not remove the conviction altogether — the conviction and dismissal still appear on your record. Also, keep in mind that there will possibly be certain restrictions that came from the conviction may still stand, such as the inability to hold public office or owning firearms. The conviction may also be used when determining a sentence for another criminal conviction.
However, these limitations aside, having your records sealed is highly beneficial. For example, if you have your criminal record sealed and you’re applying for a job in the private sector, you do not have to disclose the sealed conviction when and if your potential employer asks.
If you apply to have your records sealed, certain entities or individuals will still be able to see the original crime. This includes the following:
You if you run a copy of your own rap sheet.
Any entity you apply for a firearm license.
Potential employment as a law enforcement oficer.
Potential employment where carrying a gun is required.
Once your criminal record is sealed, any related booking photos, samples of your DNA, palmprints and fingerprint cards, and all other documents are destroyed. The only exception would be that of digital fingerprints that may be kept if you have another fingerprint on file that does not qualify for record sealing. New York allows the records of certain minor violations, juvenile offenses and traffic infractions. Each case is reviewed individually and the decision to have your records sealed is on a case-by-case basis. It’s best to have an experienced criminal law attorney on your side in order to ensure that your request is handled fairly and efficiently.
If you’re unable to get your criminal charge sealed, it’s possible you’ll be able to ask for a pardon. It’s also possible you can petition to have felony charges reduced to misdemeanor charges, or ask for an early release from probation before you seek the sealing of your records.
Consult with a criminal defense attorney for more information surrounding the sealing of your records. While it’s not a guarantee, even if it seems like your current situation may qualify you for the sealing of your records, it’s certainly worth it to take the time and consult with a legal professional.