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NY Criminal Records Seal Has Limits


As of October 2017, New York has a law on the books that could offer welcome relief to some individuals in Nassau County and elsewhere in the state. The measure amends the code on criminal procedure to allow the records of some adult convictions to be sealed – a process known as expungement.

If you have ever been convicted of a crime, or know someone who has, you appreciate the effects that can have on one’s prospects. Many employers don’t want to take the risk of hiring someone with a checkered past. If your career choice requires a professional license, the public record of criminal conviction could stymie efforts to obtain one.

The good news

The good news is that under this new amendment, it is possible for a person convicted of certain criminal charges to seek to have records sealed on two of them – even if one of them is a felony. However, there are limits to the law.

Exceptions include:

  • Convictions for sex offenses
  • Class A or violent felonies

Also, a period of at least 10 years, starting from the date of your conviction or your release from incarceration, must have elapsed.

The other news

Additionally, the seal is not airtight. Police continue to have access to the records. This means:

  • If you apply for a firearms license and have a record, the application could be denied
  • If you are a legal immigrant to the U.S. with a record – even if it is more than 10 years old – federal authorities could deny your application for citizenship.

The important things to keep in mind:

  • Eligibility is restricted
  • Application to the courts must follow strict processes
  • The process will take time
  • The court has final discretion on approvals

All are good reasons why anyone interested in sealing records is wise to contact an experienced attorney.