If you were convicted of a crime, chances are you’ve already learned that the consequences of your conviction can go well beyond incarceration or fines. It might be harder to find a job or place to live because you have to report your conviction, and you might be denied financial aid or credit because of your criminal history.
Fortunately, your criminal record can be sealed if the circumstances are right. In most cases, the ability to seal a record is limited by the type of convicted offense and how many records must be sealed. In all cases, however, at least 10 years must lapse from the end of incarceration before one can apply for record sealing.
What Does It Mean to Seal a Criminal Record?
Sealing a criminal record doesn’t eliminate it, but that doesn’t mean sealing records isn’t worth it if it’s possible. When criminal records are sealed in New York, the record itself will still exist, but documents such as booking photos, fingerprints, palm prints, DNA samples, etc. may be destroyed or returned to the convicted individual.
Also, information about your conviction becomes hidden from the general public, and you won’t be obligated to report it.
In the following cases, record sealing is automatic:
- Your case got a good result (acquittal, dismissal, decline to prosecute, etc.)
- You were a child when you committed a crime
- You were considered a “youthful offender” when you committed a crime
- You were convicted of a traffic violation or infraction
Unless your situation sounds like one of those above, you will need to apply to seal your criminal record in New York.
Sealing Records of Felonies & Misdemeanors
As long as you are eligible to have your criminal record sealed, you can petition the court to do so. Whether or not your record will ultimately be sealed, however, is up to the judge’s discretion.
Basic requirements for criminal record sealing in New York include the following:
- You were not convicted of more than two misdemeanors
- You were not convicted of more than one felony and one misdemeanor
- It has been 10 years since your conviction or release from incarceration, whichever is later
- You have successfully completed a drug treatment program
If you meet the above-listed requirements, chances are you are a good candidate for record sealing.
Convictions Not Eligible for Sealing
There are offenses for which sealing is not permitted under the current law in New York. These are broadly considered to be particularly heinous crimes or those for which there would be a public interest in keeping records of the offenses public.
Some of these offenses include the following:
- Criminal Possession of a Weapon
- Vehicular Manslaughter
- Gang Assault
- Crimes against children
- Any crime requiring sex offender registry
- Any other violent felony
If your conviction was for any offense like those described above or otherwise barred from record sealing, you are ineligible for this type of relief.
Who Can Help Me Seal My Criminal Record?
Hamilton Clarke, LLP is ready to assist those who seek to seal their criminal records. We understand the toll an old conviction can take on your life and the lasting impact it can have. If your record is eligible for sealing, and you are tired of being held back by the consequences of old mistakes, our attorneys can help.
For more information about our representation, contact Hamilton Clarke, LLP online now.