If you have been arrested, charged or convicted of a crime, it can have negative ramifications if you want to buy or rent a home, get a job, or get a loan. Expungement or record sealing gives you a second chance.

Record Expungement Or Sealing?

Expungement and sealing are often thought to be the same thing, but they are not. Expungement destroys a record, whereas sealing only closes the document. In some cases, sealing can be reversed or the record can be temporarily opened by court order. Expungement is not available in New York, but record sealing is.

Sealing For Youthful Offenders

Youthful offenders are those who hare at least 16 years old, but under 19 years old. They are eligible for automatic record sealing when their cases settle. All records are sealed, but they are still available to the institution where the person was committed, the parole office, the probation department, and the state registry of orders of protection.

Eligibility For Record Sealing

When your case is settled in your favor by acquittal, outright dismissal, dismissal after adjournments in contemplation of dismissal, declined prosecution, or nolle prosequi, your records can be sealed. Photos, copies, fingerprints and other proofs are destroyed in a complete sealing.

Non-criminal offenses may be sealed. An example of a non-criminal offense is a charge for disorderly conduct. These records are usually sealed automatically.

Marijuana possession cases that were convicted criminal offenses or that were pleaded are eligible for sealing three years after the occurrence of the crime.

A partial seal means fingerprints and photographs are sealed, but the file is still a public record. This option is for misdemeanor or felony cases that involve traffic infractions or violations.

Not Eligible For Sealing

Sealing is not available for crimes such as loitering with intent to engage in deviant sexual activity, prostitution, driving while impaired, or where a court order is in place to prevent the sealing. Sealing is not possible for violent crimes.

Filing For Sealing

If you wish to seal your record, you must file a motion with the court. Contact the clerk's office of the court where the charge was filed and prosecuted. You may ask for assistance in this matter from the court, or you can get help from an attorney advocate. Fill out the petition to seal records form. Case and arrest details, as well as proof of completion of any required rehabilitation program, must be provided. The process of review may take months.

If the court approves your petition, it will be entered into record. When the court enters the order for sealing, the clerk will inform you, as well as the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. All records will be sealed at this time. If the court challenges your petition to have your records sealed, you may need to provide more information, go to court, and offer greater detail and proof that your records should be sealed.

Rehabilitation Certificates

A Certificate of Relief From Disabilities and a Certificate of Good Conduct are legal documents that are evidence of your rehabilitation. These options are particularly helpful when applying for a job or a loan. You must meet a waiting period for these certificates, usually three to five years from last conviction, the payment of your fine, or your release from prison.

Help From an Attorney

The law varies greatly from state to state. To ensure the best possible outcome, seek the counsel of a criminal attorney.

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