When you have been charged with or convicted of a crime, there is a record of these facts that is kept. That record is commonly referred to as your criminal record. The contents of your criminal record can have an impact on various aspects of your life, including your ability to own a firearm, get certain jobs and participate in certain activities. If you are wondering what you can do about your criminal record, you might hear about expungement. That isn't something that you can have done in New York, but you might be able to have your criminal record sealed.
What does it mean to have my record sealed?
Having your record sealed means that it will become invisible to the public. It doesn't mean that it is fully removed, but it won't be visible on the criminal record that is sent to employers. It also means that your mug shots, fingerprints and palm prints are destroyed.
Are any records sealed automatically?
Under New York CPL 160.50, records of cases that didn't end in a conviction are automatically sealed. This has been the case since 1991, so unless you have a case prior to that year that didn't result in a conviction, you don't have to worry about those records.
Can any records be sealed?
There are some records that can't be sealed. Some serious violations, such as DWI, generally can't be sealed unless there are certain conditions present. A judge can conditionally seal felony or misdemeanors if you have no pending charges, you completed the court-mandated treatment program, and you completed all sentencing points.
Many criminal records are sealed after specific periods of time. If you are worried about how your criminal record will affect you and need to take steps to have your record sealed, you can file a petition to have the records sealed. This can sometimes involve having to go to court, so understanding all applicable points is necessary.
Source: FindLaw, "How To Expunge a Criminal Record in New York," accessed Aug. 12, 2016