Sealing of a Criminal Conviction in Syracuse & Central NY

Sealing a conviction

After a defendant is convicted of a crime in New York, he or she will have a criminal record. Having a criminal record can create challenges related to employment, housing, and even personal relationships. Some states allow descendants to petition the court to clean, or expunge, their criminal record. In New York, there is no procedure for a total expungement, or erasure, of a person’s criminal record. However, in certain circumstances, a New York Court can assist in sealing a criminal conviction.

Sealing a criminal conviction doesn’t erase the criminal record but makes it much less visible to the public. If you’ve been convicted of a crime in New York and you’re interested in having your criminal conviction sealed, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. Contact CDH Law PLLC today to schedule your initial consultation.

The Benefits of Sealing Your Criminal Conviction

Many benefits come from sealing your criminal conviction. After your record is sealed, it will still be available for law enforcement officials and in the court system. However, private organizations will not be able to access your criminal record after it’s sealed. Suppose you apply for your dream job, and the interviewer informs you that they will need to run a criminal background check on you. After your criminal record has been sealed, the background check will show up without your conviction being visible to the interviewer.

Other benefits of sealing your criminal record include succeeding with student loan applications and acquiring certain types of housing assistance. Your right to vote may also be restored. Sealing your criminal record can help you in your professional and personal relationships. Many of our clients feel a weight lifted off of them once their criminal record has been sealed. 

Criminal Convictions That Can Be Sealed in New York

In some cases, New York courts seal a person’s record automatically without them taking any action. For example, when a court issues a verdict of not guilty in a criminal case, the court will automatically seal the record within a year. When a child commits a crime, the court will seal the criminal record within a year. Finally, the court will seal most convictions related to traffic and other violation-level offenses automatically.

In all other cases, the defendant must petition the court to seal his or her criminal conviction. In October 2017, New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59 came into effect, greatly expanding the types of criminal convictions that courts can seal. Nonetheless, the regulation still imposes strict categories of crimes to whom the new law applies. Only the following types of convictions are eligible to be sealed in New York: 

  • Ten years or more have passed since the conviction date if no jail time occurred
  • Ten years or more have passed since the defendant was released from jail
  • The charge is not a sex crime, violent felony, or any other class A felony
  • One can only request the sealing of two convictions, and only one may be a felony

Many crimes cannot be sealed, such as assault, burglary, conspiracy, manslaughter, and the criminal use of a firearm. However, courts have the authority to seal convictions of many commonly charged crimes, such as:

  • Shoplifting
  • Theft
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Public intoxication
  • Simple assault
  • Drug possession
  • Vandalism
  • Loitering
  • Trespassing
  • Hazing in the second degree
  • Illegally posting advertisements

The Process of Sealing Your Criminal Record in New York

When a defendant meets all of the criteria listed above, he or she can petition the court to seal up to two criminal convictions. When the defendant would like two crimes sealed, he or she must petition the court that convicted him or her of the most serious of the two crimes. The defendant must include a sworn statement that lists reasons why the court should seal the conviction in his or her petition.

After the defendant submits the petition, the district attorney will have 45 days to object to the record being sealed. When the district attorney does not object, the court has the option to decide whether to seal the record without conducting a hearing. When a court grants a petition to have a criminal record sealed, all official records of the person’s conviction will be sealed and will not be available to any public agency or a private person. There are a few exceptions to this rule, however. The following agencies will still have access to the official record of the sealed convictions:

  • Courts
  • Correctional facilities
  • Firearm licensing authorities
  • Law enforcement

Sealing Drug Crimes in New York

Many of our clients need to seal drug crimes that are hindering their professional and personal aspirations. In New York, you can petition the court to seal drug-related misdemeanors and felony offenses. However, the person petitioning the court will need to complete a substance abuse treatment program approved by the court. He or she will also need to complete any additional sentencing and not have any pending criminal charges against him or her.

What Can I Do While I Wait to Petition The Court?

If you are waiting for the 10-year time to be complete before petitioning the court to seal your record, you still have options. You can request a Certificate of Good Conduct or a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities, which will ease some of the restrictions you face due to your criminal conviction. We recommend keeping a list of all of the community service you do and other accomplishments you can present at your eventual hearing.  You should consciously work to build up the equities in your case during the 10-year period so that you can advance the best possible case for sealing when the time comes.

Contact Our Syracuse Criminal Defense Lawyers Today

At CDH Law PLLC, we have helped many Syracuse-area clients succeed in sealing their criminal records. We will carefully review your criminal record and advise you on whether you’re eligible for the ceiling of your criminal conviction. We will complete all of the necessary paperwork and make a compelling legal argument on your behalf at court. Contact our criminal defense lawyers today to learn how we can help you attempt to get your criminal record sealed.