New York Criminal Record Attorney/
Though the term “expungement” is commonly used when describing how to “wipe-away” your criminal record as if it never happened, in New York, you cannot expunge your criminal record. However, you can “seal” your record, which removes fingerprints and photographs, but the file is still a “limited” public record.
The most obvious benefit is that it will be impossible for employers, creditors, and credit reporting agencies to know you were convicted of all but the most serious of crimes. And the most effective way to go about sealing your records is with a seasoned criminal lawyer who understands the procedures and nuances of sealing criminal records.
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Don’t make the mistake of waiting too long to contact a criminal defense lawyer! Time is of the essence, and your court date is fast approaching. If you’ve made a mistake and find yourself in trouble with the law, don’t give up.
Michael Litman, based in White Plains, NY, has over a decade of experience and knowledge about how to best defend individuals charged with misdemeanors.
For questions or to set up a consultation, contact us online or call us at 917.554.8231.
Who CAN view your sealed criminal records?
- Your employer, if you want to work as a law enforcement or a peace officer, or any job in which you must carry a gun.
- Your parole or probation officer, if you are arrested while on parole or probation.
- Prosecutors and other law enforcement officials, only through court order if a judge is convinced they should have it, “in the interests of justice.”
- Any agency you apply to for a gun license.
- The military when you enlist.
What crimes can be sealed?
You can seal juvenile delinquencies, or acts that would be criminal convictions if you were over the age of 16. However, if you were more than 13 years old and were tried as a “juvenile offender” for a serious crime, the record is treated as if you were an adult.
You can seal any Penal Law offense, such as disorderly conduct, where there was no conviction under New York CPL §160.50; these were sealed automatically after 1991. Non-criminal “violation” offenses, such as loitering or trespassing, can be sealed. So can certain low-level possession of marijuana cases. Since October 2009, judges are allowed to conditionally seal felonies and misdemeanors under New York CPL §160.55 in the following very limited circumstances:
- You have completed a court-mandated alcohol or drug treatment program, AND
- You completed any other sentence imposed following the completion of treatment, AND
- You have no pending charges.
What crimes can’t be sealed?
Sealing is not available for crimes such as loitering with intent to engage in deviant sexual activity, prostitution, driving while impaired, violent crimes, and any offense where a court order is in place to prevent the sealing.
Can my juvenile record be sealed?
Youthful offenders (age 16-18) are eligible for record sealing when their cases are adjudicated. All records are sealed, but are still available to the institution where the juvenile was committed, the parole office, the probation department, and the state registry of orders of protection. Law enforcement and prosecutors may also view them but, again, only if they obtain a court order by persuading a judge it is in the interest of justice.
How can an attorney help me?
It is best to try to plea bargain a case in a way that the case can be sealed in court. However, in some cases, it may be possible to seal your record by motion after your court case is finished. If you wish to seal your record, a lawyer can help you file a motion with the court. Many documents to support your motion should accompany the motion, such as:
- Documents surrounding your case and arrest details
- Proof of completion of any required rehabilitation program
- A Certificate of Relief From Disabilities
- A Certificate of Good Conduct
- Other documents or references to support your motion.
The court will review your motion before rendering a decision, which could take several months — maybe as much as a year. If the court approves your petition, it is entered into the record. When the court enters the order for sealing, the clerk informs you and the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services of the court’s ruling and, shortly, all records are sealed. But the court may also challenge your petition, in which case you and your attorney will have to provide more information, go to court, and offer proof – including possible witnesses – that your records should be sealed.
Getting a record sealed involves meeting very specific court requirements and convincing multiple agencies to support your request. Even if the process is relatively straightforward, each petition for sealing is different. If it’s time to clean up your criminal record, the Law Office of Michael D. Litman, PLLC can help guide you through the process, provide important insights into your case, and anticipate its potential pitfalls. Contact us online or call us at 917.554.8231 for a free initial review to discuss putting your criminal record behind you.