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