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Sealing Criminal Records in New York

Until recently, New York State did not have a procedure for sealing criminal records. Previously, New York State did issue qualified individuals Certificates of Relief from Disabilities, which assisted those with a criminal history in receiving professional licensing. Now, eligible individuals will be permitted to apply to seal their criminal charges in addition to requesting relief from civil disabilities. [Sidebar: There is no way to expunge or erase criminal records in New York State.]

Who is eligible to have their records sealed?

Not all criminal records can be sealed, even if several years have passed during which you have not been in trouble with the law. Firstly, in order to apply for sealing your criminal records, you have to be crime free for ten years. That means ten years from your last conviction and/or release from custody. Additionally, you cannot have more than 2 criminal convictions, and only one may be a felony. Under certain circumstances, you may be able to seal your criminal records in the event you have more than two convictions in your past, such as qualifying completion of drug treatment programs. If you have multiple convictions that are all legally related to each other, these charges may also be sealed.

In New York State, there are enumerated crimes that may never be sealed.  These include sex offenses, violent felonies and other serious felonies.

How can you get your records sealed?

You must apply to have your criminal record sealed; it is not automatic. The application process includes obtaining required documents and evidence, filing an application and submitting a petition to the court. The District Attorney’s Office must also receive a copy of all of the documents submitted to the court.  Once the process is complete, a Judge will consider your application and either approve or deny your request for sealing your criminal conviction history. Hiring an attorney to assist you through this process will increase your chances of being successful.

If your application is approved, you will receive a signed Seal Order.  Once your history is sealed, only certain agencies will be able to view your criminal conviction history.  These include the police, District Attorney’s Offices, the department of criminal justice, certain governmental agencies, etc.

How is sealing records different from a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities or Certificate of Good Conduct?

Sealing records does not permit certain entities, agencies, and the public from viewing your past criminal convictions. The primary reason people seek to have their records sealed is for employment opportunities. A Certificate of Relief may remove bars to applying for jobs, licenses, and public housing, etc. despite having a prior criminal conviction.  A Certificate of Good Conduct allows you to apply for certain jobs, licenses, public office, housing or other rights that you lost when you were convicted. Depending on your criminal history, eligibility, and goals, you may choose to apply for one or more of these. The Law Offices of Jennifer G. Tocci, P.C., can help you determine your eligibility for each form of relief, as well as advise you of what will be needed for your to obtain your goals.

For an evaluation of your personal situation and assistance in the application processes, schedule an appointment with the Law Offices of Jennifer G. Tocci, P.C. (631) 343-7676.

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