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Sealing a conviction in New York


Sealing a criminal conviction can assist many offenders in moving forward from their past mistakes. One of the advantages of sealing a conviction is that an employer or landlord will not see it when conducting a background check. This may help an individual find a job, rent an apartment or attend school.

An individual’s record may qualify for sealing from the Empire State’s public database after meeting certain requirements. In some cases, the sealing may be automatic. While the record continues to exist, the court destroys an individual’s fingerprint or palm card, mug shot pictures and DNA samples.

Automatic record sealing

Cases that ended with a good result become automatically sealed, as noted by the New York State Unified Court System’s website. A good result, also referred to as a favorable disposition, may include an acquittal, dismissal or a prosecutor’s decision to not move ahead with a case. An automatic sealing may also occur when a judge decides to set aside a verdict before sentencing.

Record-sealing applications

Since New York State’s 2017 changes to the sealing laws, an eligible individual may ask the court to seal two records. Misdemeanor records may qualify for sealing, but an individual may seal only one lower-class felony record of the two convictions permitted.

Convictions for several misdemeanor offenses related to one action of wrongdoing could, however, combine into one record that may qualify for sealing. For example, a DWI conviction that included numerous traffic charges related to a single incident may count as one record.

Applying to seal a record in New York can be complex and subject to specific time frames. For example, a petitioner must have incurred no further convictions within 10 years of the end of his or her sentence. He or she must also have made all payments for any fees or fines as ordered by the court. Whether an individual must pay restitution or serve on probation, sealing may not occur without first completing all the terms and sentencing requirements set by the presiding judge.