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Key information concerning New York arrest/conviction record sealing

On Behalf of | Feb 24, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Maybe your life as a resident of one of New York City’s boroughs hasn’t been completely immune from past legal challenges.

Perhaps you were once arrested and convicted on a theft charge like shoplifting or burglary. Maybe you were once charged on some petty disorderly offense. Or it could be the case that years back you were convicted on a marijuana-linked offense or some other nonviolent infraction. Criminal charging possibilities are widely varied, even seemingly unlimited.

Whatever the case, legions of New Yorkers face the uncomfortable reality that material challenges tied to one or more past criminal charges continue to plague them even following the completion of all sentencing mandates.

To wit: As a former offender, you still struggle with the consequences even though you have complied with every exaction imposed on you for a past indiscretion.

“A criminal conviction is a hard thing to live with,” duly notes one New York legal source addressing a formal post-conviction process termed expungement.

What is expungement, and what benefits does it provide?

Your past follows you. And that is a flatly realized and enduring truism for many New Yorkers with criminal records. A criminal conviction can mar employment opportunities. It can reap an adverse result on a college application, yield a “no” response from a landlord, stop loan documents in their tracks, preclude any chance for military service and spawn many other negative results.

Adversely affected individuals understandably seek relief from ongoing stigma and curbed opportunities linked with past legal troubles. For many of them, criminal record sealing is an invaluable lifeline for improving the process.

Here are some key takeaways from New York’s record sealing law, as underscored in an in-depth article published by the New York City Bar:

  • Legislation does not allow for complete expungement (erasure) of records but, rather, their sealing under certain circumstances
  • Recent updating of state record sealing law greatly expands the opportunity to seal “a wide array of adult criminal convictions”

Eligibility requirements for sealing centrally impose the following conditions:

  • Passage of at least a decade between sentencing and application
  • No current or pending charges
  • No recent conviction
  • Limit on misdemeanor and felony charges sough to be sealed

Unsurprisingly, not all convictions qualify for sealing consideration. Enumerated statutory exclusions include an enumerated list of sex offenses, violent crimes and select felony offenses.

The potential benefits conferred by sealing are many and considerably empowering. Notably too, though, many applicants find the sealing process to be complex, with application particulars being detailed and not always readily comprehensible.

An experienced and empathetic criminal defense attorney can be a strong ally for any individual seeking to secure the strong upsides linked with record sealing.


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