Overview of Expunging /Clearing Your Criminal Record in New York State

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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In New York State you cannot clear (destroy) or “expunge” your criminal record, even if you were never found guilty of the charges. Instead, New York uses a process called “sealing” for those records that qualify. Sealing means that the record still exists and is not physically destroyed, but it is hidden from public inspection. Once the record is sealed, the related fingerprint and palmprint cards, booking photos, DNA samples, and all official records are destroyed (with the exception of digital fingerprints that may be retained if the person already has a fingerprint on file that has not been sealed). New York allows sealing of certain violations, traffic infractions, juvenile offenses, and if a criminal case is In your favor.

Anyone whose criminal history record cannot be sealed can still get help by obtaining a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities or a Certificate of Good Conduct. These certificates are valuable option for lifting certain employment and licensing restrictions.

A sealed record can still be seen by law enforcement, by a firearm licensing agencies, by a prospective employer on a job requiring the carrying of a gun (i.e., a police officer), child care agencies, hospitals, schools and companies hiring school bus drivers.

Out-of-state and federal arrests and/or convictions are not a part of your New York criminal record and therefore getting your New York record sealed has no effect on them.

Since a sealed record is not generally open to the public it does not have to be disclosed on employment applications. Additionally, you will become eligible for things such as student loans, certain housing assistance, and the right to vote.

For more information, click to read the following articles:

Sealing of Adult Criminal Records in New York

Process to Sealing Criminal Records in New York

Sealing of Juvenile Records in New York

Alternatives To Sealing Your Criminal Record in New York: Certificate of Relief from Civil Disabilities or Certificate of Good Conduct

Do I Need An Attorney To Seal My Criminal Record in New York?

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