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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.

What is the process of getting a criminal conviction sealed?

The steps to getting a criminal conviction sealed are as follows:

  • The conviction must be eligible for sealing. Some offenses such as most sex crimes are not eligible.
  • The original sentence must have been served.
  • 10 years must have elapsed since the conviction.
  • File a petition with the criminal court where the conviction of the offense sought to be sealed occurred.
  • The petitioner must not have any new convictions, must not have had any new arrests, must not have any pending charges, and must not be facing any new charges

The burden is on the applicant to prove that probation requirements have been fulfilled. The prosecutor is allowed to object to the sealing. The judge has discretion as to whether or not to seal the record. In addition, only 2 felony convictions can be sealed. In other words, if a petitioner has 3 felony convictions, only 2 could possibly be 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.

What are reasons that an application for sealing may be denied?

Under the new sealing law a petitioner’s application will automatically be denied if it has not been 10 years since the sentencing for the conviction that you want sealed. A sealing application will also be denied if the petitioner have been arrested, charged or convicted of another crime, or the petitioner has not made any attempt toward rehabilitation in the 10 year period since the sentencing for the conviction that want sealed. The prosecutor is allowed to object to sealing and ultimately the judge will determine whether or not to seal a conviction.

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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