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New York Sealing v. Expungement Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Criminal Record Sealing or Expungement?

A criminal, record is public. Anyone can search the database and find a defendant’s criminal record. Both misdemeanors and felonies are included. A criminal record does not go away. Having a criminal record can present challenges in finding a job, obtaining professional licensing, renting apartment, and voting. Criminal records even include records of arrests that do not result in convictions.

There are situations where such records can be sealed or expunged. A sealed record is not accessible by anyone other than certain law enforcement personnel. This means, for example, if a potential employer runs a background check, a sealed record will not come up. An expungement involves removing the record completely. While sealing is available in New York, expungement is not.

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What Is the Difference Between Sealing and Expungement?

Sealing means that while the conviction is hidden from the public, it remains accessible by certain governmental agencies such as law enforcement, the courts, the military if you enlist, and the agency that issues firearms licenses. With expungement a conviction is completely erased.

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What Is the Process of Getting a Criminal Conviction Sealed?

In New York the procedure to get a conviction sealed is to file an application with the criminal court where the conviction for the offense sought to be sealed occurred. The application must include a sworn statement from you with the reasons the conviction should be sealed. The prosecutor can object to the sealing. If there is an objection, the court may hold a hearing. The judge will make the final decision.

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Can a Felony Be Sealed?

Certain felonies can be sealed, while others cannot. New York Class A felonies and violent felonies cannot be sealed. Felonies and misdemeanors that require sex offender registration cannot be sealed.

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Can I Get All of My Convictions Sealed?

The sealing rules are in place to give individuals with criminal records the opportunity to make a fresh start without putting the public at risk. It is not meant to hide the criminal records of those with extensive criminal histories who have not made an effort to rehabilitate. Thus, the New York sealing law allows only up to two eligible convictions sealed. Only one of the convictions can be a felony. However, if you were convicted of more than one crime during the same criminal transaction, all of those eligible crimes are considered a single crime for the purposes of sealing eligibility.

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Do I Have to Tell My Employer About a Sealed Conviction?

Once a conviction is sealed, your conviction will not be available to public or private who perform employment-related criminal background checks. The exceptions to this rule are if you are applying for a job as a police officer or peace officer, or if you are applying to join the military. Employers are not allowed to ask about sealed convictions.

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What Are Reasons That an Application for Sealing May Be Denied?

Under New York’s sealing law your application will automatically be denied if it has not been 10 years since the sentencing for the conviction that you want sealed. Your sealing application will also be denied if you have been arrested, charged or convicted of another crime, or you have not made any attempt toward rehabilitation in the 10 year period since the sentencing for the conviction you want sealed. Keep in mind that the prosecutor can to object sealing and ultimately the judge will determine whether or not to seal your conviction.

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Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Having a criminal record can make it difficult to find a job, find housing, and go to school. You will miss out on many opportunities. Sealing convictions is a way for you to put your past behind you and get a fresh start. However, the application process is complicated and approval is not automatic. It is important that an experienced attorney prepare your sealing application so that it will have the best chance for approval. The sealing attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts. We can help you with the process of sealing your record. Contact us at 800.NY.NY.LAW (800.696.9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve clients in the following locations: Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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Client Reviews
My wife and I met under some unconventional circumstances. After I had some legal problems, Mr Bilkis and his firm continually got me out of trouble. I then had his firm represented my wife and he got her out of trouble! We are still married and got our ways straightened away. We both can't thank him enough for saving our lives and our families! J.P.
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I was in need of legal assistance for a very sensitive matter for a family member. I contacted the law offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC and was met with staff whose demeanor was supportive, compassionate and professional. The lawyer handling our case had many years of experience and treated us as if we were his own family. Our experience was so good, and we became so close to all of the staff and all of the attorneys who assisted us, that we consider them our extended family and continue to send them our home baked gifts for the holidays. P.A.K.
I hired Stephen Bilkis and Associates to represent me on a legal matter a few months ago and am grateful for their swift action and resolution on my behalf. I was impressed with their professionalism and would recommend them to friends and family in a heartbeat. M.B.