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If a person is convicted of a crime in New York, they often assume this will remain on their permanent record for the rest of their life. For most instances, this is true. There is no process for erasure, or expungement, of a criminal record in New York. There are however, circumstances, under which the criminal record can be sealed. In October 2017, there was a new court rule which went into effect that broadened the scope of when a record can be sealed. When a record is sealed, it’s only visible to certain government entities, when applying for a job with a very specific requirement, or if a person is charged with a crime in the future.
Experienced New York / NYC record sealing lawyers like those at the Spodek Law Group can help prospective clients go through record sealing process – in addition to preparing them for upcoming changes to the record sealing law.
Here’s the current record sealing procedure
In some situations, the person’s criminal record will be sealed after one year – without needing any examples, examples of where this will happen are:
Cases where the verdict was not guilty
Cases where the crime was done by a child
Most traffic violations (except Driving While Ability Impaired)
For the majority of all misdemeanors and felony convictions, there’s no procedure to have the records sealed. The only exception for to this rule is if the crime is classified as being committed because of drug abuse. In order to get the record sealed, a person needs to comply with all the diversionary programs, have no other pending criminal charges, and complete all non-diversionary components of the sentence. If all three of the conditions are met, then a motion can be made with the court in order to seal the record. In order to take action, a person shouldn’t proceed without a record sealing attorney.
Record sealing lawyers at the Spodek Law Group can help clients who fulfill the criteria to file the motion and argue for it’s approval in front of a judge.
With the passage of New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59, the number of convictions which can be sealed has expanded. There are strict categories of people to whom this new law will apply. In order to take advantage of this new procedure, it’s necessary that the convictions be:
-More than 10 years old. The date begins upon the date of conviction if no jail time was imposed, or upon release from jail.
-Charges must not be a sex offense, violent felony, or class A felony
-Sealing can be requested for a maximum of 2 convictions, only one of which can be a felony
If someone’s convictions meet the criteria above, a petition is made to the court where the more serious of the two convictions is entered to be sealed. The petition has to contain a sworn statement mentioning why the sealing should be granted. The DA’s office has 45 days to object to the record being sealed. If no objection is made, then the court can seal the record without a formal hearing. When such a petition is granted, all of the official records of the convictions will be sealed and made unavailable to any private person/public agency, with the exception of courts, correction agencies, firearm licensing authorities, and law enforcement individuals.
The Purpose of Sealing a Criminal Record
While court systems, and law enforcement, will know a person was convicted of a crime, all private organizations will not. This means a criminal background check will come back without the convictions being visible. Other benefits of sealing a criminal record include restoring your right to vote, clearing the path for student loan applications and other housing assistance. To begin, contact our NYC record sealing lawyers.
In New York State, criminal records are sealed in a variety of scenarios. The below list is detailed in CPL 160.50.
Acquittal after trial
Dismissal by Grand Jury, No True Bill
Dismissal in Interests of Justice, Clayton Motion
Dismissal of Information
Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (“ACD”)
Decline to Prosecute (“DP’d or Nolle Prosequi – this is when a Assistant District Attorney from the Early Case Assessment Bureau declines to prosecute)
Decline to File Accusatory Instrument ( This is when NYPD declines to file criminal charges)
Order Setting Aside the Verdict
Order Vacating a Judgement
If your criminal case was ended by above of the above then the New York State Department of Criminal Justice System, the NYPD or other Police agency, the District Attorneys Office and the Court records are sealed.
Can Felony Convictions Be Sealed in NY?
Can Misdemeanor Convictions Be Sealed in NY?
What Does the Sealing of NY Criminal Records Mean?
The sealing of criminal records means that the actual court file remains, however it is sealed from the public view.
What Does Expungement of NY Criminal Records Mean?
The expungement of criminal records is the physical removal of criminal records. This occurs in various jurisdictions, however it is not available under NY law.
The Sealing of Criminal Records Process
The clerk of the court must send notification to the New York State Department of Criminal Justice System and to the relevant police agency
Every photograph of the defendant, fingerprint of the defendant, or palm print of the defendant must be returned to the person who received the favorable disposition of destroyed. Any police departments and law enforcement agencies who have photographs of the defendant, fingerprints or palm prints and have shared them with other agencies or jurisdictions must track them down have them destroyed. However, digital copies of fingerprints may be retained on file, if the individual already has a fingerprint on file and it has not been sealed already.
All of the official records and papers, including but not limited to copies of published opinions by the Judge shall be sealed and not made available to any person, public or private agency.
When Can There Be an Unsealing of the Criminal Records?
There are certain statutorily defined circumstances in which sealed records can be released by court order. See CPL 160.50(e)
The client requests it
The client applies for a gun permit or license
The client applies for a job as a law enforcement or peace officer
The client is arrested while on parole or probation
If a prosecutor or law enforcement official establish that “justice requires”
What is the Difference Between the Sealing of NY Criminal Records under CPL 160.50 vs. CPL 160.55?
The sealing of NY criminal records under CPL 160.50 occurs when the criminal charges are dismissed completely, whereas the sealing of NY criminal records under CPL 160.55 occurs when the criminal charges are reduced from a felony or misdemeanor to a violation. Under CPL 160.50 all records are destroyed. Under CPL 160.55 the court records are still available.
Todd A. Spodek is a NY criminal lawyer with Spodek Law Group P.C.
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