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Can I Get My Criminal Record Expunged in New York?


Question: About fifteen years ago, I was involved in a night of youthful indiscretion: I went out drinking with some friends (I was underage), and we ended up stealing a car. We were caught that night (it was a stick shift and we didn’t really know how to drive it.)

My criminal record is causing me all kinds of problems getting jobs and renting an apartment. I heard there is a new law where I can get this record sealed. Does that include the things I did back then?

Answer: Up until just a few weeks ago, you would have had to just live with the past and hope that over time people would forgive and forget. Thanks to a new law passed by the legislature, however, you now have the opportunity to get your record clean.

It sounds like you meet the first criteria, which is that you have not been in anymore trouble since the incident. In order to apply for expungement—the legal word that refers to sealing a record—you must wait a period of ten years before being eligible. The ten-year period begins after your sentence is complete.

New York only allows you to expunge two convictions, and is limited to only one felony. You don’t state how many crimes with which you were charged, but it appears that only one was a felony, so in that regard, you also meet the criteria.

It sounds like you were probably charged with more than one crime (DUI, underage consumption and Grand Larceny). Normally, you would only be able to seal two of those convictions. However, since the charges occurred out of the same incident, you would be eligible to expunge all of them.

Bear in mind that the judge has some discretion in every case, and there are other criteria that the judge considers in granting your request. If you want to proceed with an expungement, contact an experienced criminal law attorney to initiate the proceedings.