What Is Expungement and Is It Available in New York?

As any of the best New York expungement lawyers would know, expungement is the procedure by which records relating to a prior arrest or criminal conviction are wiped clean, either through physical destruction, sealing of records or both. A prior conviction that has gone through the process of expungement does not need to be disclosed on most job applications and should not turn up in any private background checks or criminal record searches performed by many employers (the few notable exceptions to its non disclosure benefit involve applications for certain professional licenses, including the state bar license required of lawyers as well as applications for certain law enforcement jobs which may require the applicant disclose any expunged arrest or conviction). Additionally, an individual who has received an expungement of their criminal record is given the benefit of first offender status by both law enforcement and the courts and, in certain states, could be eligible for multiple expungements over a period of time. At least in theory, an expunged criminal conviction, both on employment applications and in life, is treated as if it never happened.

Unfortunately, there is no mechanism in New York that allows those with prior felony or misdemeanor convictions to have their records of those offenses effectively destroyed or expunged. The closest available mechanism to expungement is an order of termination which, under New York’s Criminal Procedure Rules § 160.55, authorizes the destroying of arrest records and the sealing of prosecution papers relating to most traffic infractions and criminal violations, regardless of disposition. For felony or misdemeanor offenses, however, the record of your arrest and conviction is permanent.

While expungement procedures have yet to be authorized by New York’s legislature, other alternative forms of relief from the employment and civil consequences of a criminal conviction do exist. Specifically, a court order for the conditional sealing of a criminal record provides many of the same benefits of expungement but with some notable caveats. First and foremost, eligibility for an order of the conditional sealing of arrest and conviction records is extremely limited and is issued entirely at the discretion of the court. Relief more widely available in New York come in the form of certain certificates of rehabilitation which, among other benefits, lift bars on employment and restore lost civil rights in the wake of a felony and/or misdemeanor conviction.

To find out if you may qualify to receive an order to seal of seal or a certificate of rehabilitation, contact one of the New York expungement lawyers at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman at your earliest opportunity. With decades of experience working within the New York State criminal justice system, we understand how a criminal record can derail a person’s life long after conviction and will work with you or your loved one on preparing an application for relief that has the best prospects for success.

Additional passages on the benefits and eligibility requirements for the various forms of relief available in New York from the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction are available below: