Can I Get My Criminal Record Expunged?

criminal background check form with glasses and a pen

When people think about the penalties associated with breaking the law, they often think of going to jail, being put on probation, or having to pay a fine. However, the effects of a guilty conviction can follow you long after you’ve repaid your debt to society in the form of a criminal record.

How a Criminal Record Impacts Your Life

A mistake someone made years, if not decades, ago should not prevent them from making the most of their life. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what a criminal record can do. New Yorkers with a criminal record often have a harder time finding employment or getting safe housing, and it can limit their custody rights.

Because of this, many people look for ways to “clean up” their criminal record and start fresh. This is where expungement or sealing can help.

What is the Difference Between Expungement & Record Sealing?

When talking about cleaning up a record, most people use the term “expunge.” To expunge your record means to have your criminal history completely destroyed and all convictions erased. But unlike other states, New York doesn’t allow people to expunge criminal records. Instead, most people go the route of having their record sealed.

Until recently, New York law only allowed a record to be sealed under very narrow circumstances, mostly involving diversion courts and drug treatment dispositions. However, in October 2017, New York enacted an expansive criminal conviction sealing law.

What Crimes Cannot Be Sealed?

Typically, a person can only petition to have two criminal convictions sealed and only one can be a felony. Certain convictions, like those that pose a significant danger to the public, can not be sealed, including:

  • Most sex offenses, including any that require a person to register as a sex offender;
  • Certain violent crimes;
  • Class “A” felonies, the most serious crimes under New York law; and
  • Certain other felonies.

Am I Eligible for Record Sealing?

A person interested in having their record sealed must also meet certain criteria. Some, but not all, criteria include:

  • At least 10 years must have passed between their sentencing or release from prison (whichever is later) and their application;
  • They do not have current or pending criminal charges;
  • They do not have any recent criminal convictions.

Are you being charged with a crime in New York or interested in having your record sealed? Contact Kenneth E. Belkin, Esq. at (718) 395-6755 if you need a reliable attorney to fight for your rights in New York.