Sealing of Adult Criminal Records in New York

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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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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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Outcome in Your Favor (Dispositions Favorable To The Defendant): If the final outcome of your case is in your favor, its record is automatically sealed. This is a non-court process of sealing. Included here are:

  1. Acquittal At Trial
  2. Dismissal By Grand Jury – No True Bill
  3. Dismissal In The Interests Of Justice (Clayton Motion)
  4. Dismissal Of Information
  5. Adjournment In Contemplation Of Dismissal (“ACD”)
  6. Decline Prosecution (Nolle Prosequi)
  7. Decline To File Accusatory Instrument (By The Police)
  8. Order Setting Aside The Verdict
  9. Order Vacating The Judgment
  10. Habeas Corpus

Drug-Related Convictions: A person convicted of felony drug, marijuana, or Willard non-drug eligible crimes (e.g. property crimes committed as a result of substance abuse) may request to have their records for those crimes sealed once they successfully complete Diversion, DTAP, or a similar substance abuse treatment program recognized by the court. The sealing will also extend to up to 3 of their drug-related misdemeanor convictions.

The sealing of these records is not automatic. You need to do paperwork, appear in court, and convince the Judge. If granted your record will be “conditionally sealed”. This means that if you are re-arrested, your previous criminal record will automatically be unsealed.

Other Criminal Convictions: Any other criminal conviction, felony or misdemeanor, cannot be sealed.

Violation Convictions: New York state also allows the sealing of records for a “violation” conviction. A violation is not a crime, and is less serious than a felony or misdemeanor. These violations include:

  • Criminal Solicitation (Fifth Degree)
  • Trespass
  • Unlawfully Posting Advertisements
  • Failing to Respond To An Appearance Ticket
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Unlawful Possession Of A Weapon Upon School Grounds
  • Harassment (Second Degree)
  • Loitering (Exception for §240.35(3) “in a deviant manner”, or §240.37(2) “for prostitution”; neither of which can be sealed)
  • Appearance In Public Under The Influence Of Narcotics Or A Drug Other Than Alcohol
  • Exposure Of A Person
  • Promoting The Exposure Of A Person
  • Offensive ExhibitionMisconduct By A Juror (Second Degree)
  • Unlawful Prevention Of Public Access To Record
  • Hazing (Second Degree)
  • Unlawful Possession Of Marijuana (a conviction for possession of less than 7/8 of an ounce of marijuana can be sealed only after successful completion of a 3-year waiting period) — §221.05

Traffic Infraction Convictions: All violations of the NY Vehicle and Traffic Code are infractions and not crimes (unless declared to be a felony or misdemeanor) and are sealable (VTL §155). Common traffic infractions include: speeding, passing a school bus, red light violations, failure to yield the right-of-way to an emergency vehicle, and failure to stop at a stop sign.

Drunk driving: A DUI (Driving under the Influence) is a crime and therefore such a conviction can never be sealed. There are several types of DUIs in New York, such as DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) and DWAID (Driving While Intoxicated –Drugs), ADWI (Aggravated driving while intoxicated.); DWAIDA (Driving while ability impaired by drugs); Per Se DWI (Driving while intoxicated charge).

The infraction of DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired) is not sealable.

Limitation To Sealing For Violations/Infractions: The records sealed for violations and traffic infractions cannot be accessed by the police or prosecutor. However, the court records still exist; they are not sealed. (CPL §160.55(c)). Therefore, these records are publicly available at the courthouse, and can be obtained by an employer or anyone else who is willing to review court files.

For more information on clearing criminal records in New York, click on the following articles:

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

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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