Are law schools and licensing agencies able to obtain sealed court records?

For example, they ask for all arrests–even the ones that are dismissed and sealed. CPL 160.60 says that no one shall be required to divulge sealed information under CPL 160.50 and NY executive law 296.16 prohibits asking about non-conviction arrests. If an applicant denies the existence of a sealed record, can law schools or the NY lawyer licensing agency find out that the applicant had lied? Lastly, are the statements they give notarized statements authorizing court’s disclosure of sealed records? Is “I hereby authorize courts to release all sealed info…” a notarized statement?

Asked on July 12, 2010 under Criminal Law, New York


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Are you a law student or applying to law school?  Or are you worried about when you make your application to be admitted to the bar?  Generally, when a matter is sealed only the courts and certain employers can see the records.  You can rest assured that the FBI can see it even if it was sealed. Are you deciding on what to do here?  Then I would suggest that you first read the application well and if it says all arrests then err on the side of disclosure. And don;t assume that the record is sealed because someone told you it was.  Do a background check yourself and see. And if you are hoping to be admitted to the bar get a copy of the paperwork surrounding the offense.  You will need ti to go with your bar application.  Relax and be up front.  Explain the incident giving it the attention it deserves but don't make it the focal point of your application. And read this article below.  Good luck.

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