Record Sealing: Where Do I Begin?

Having a criminal record makes life much harder. A record can make it much more difficult to get a job, a place to live, or financial assistance. Fortunately, New York recognizes that a few mistakes shouldn’t define a person’s life, and provides a way for people with a record to clear it: criminal record sealing.

However, like many other legal processes, record sealing can be challenging. Sealing a record requires filing a petition with a court, which requires a significant amount of information about the record one is looking to seal. Although a lawyer can help fill out the petition and navigate the process, anyone seeking to seal their record will need certain information about their arrest, conviction, and sentence.

Who’s Eligible for Record Sealing?

There are some limits on who can seal their criminal record in New York. First, with few exceptions, only people with two or fewer criminal convictions in New York over their entire lifetime are eligible. Only one of those convictions can be a felony. It may still be possible for people with more than two convictions to have their record sealed, as long as those convictions did not stem from more than two events. However, certain serious offenses, like arson, kidnapping, and murder can’t be sealed. 

Second, there is a waiting period for most offenses. While arrest records, juvenile offenses, and municipal offenses can be sealed as soon as a case is finished, misdemeanors and felonies can only be sealed once ten years have passed since a person finished paying fines and serving any sentence for the crime.

What Do I Need to Know to Get My Record Sealed?

To process a record sealing application, the court requires the applicant to provide Certificates of Disposition for each offense to be sealed. A Certificate of Disposition lists the crime with which one was charged, whether the person was convicted, and what the sentence was.

To get a Certificate of Disposition, a person must file a request with the court that convicted them. The request form asks for some identifying information to help the court clerk find the Certificate. It helps to know the following information:

  • The date of arrest (or the date a juvenile was taken into custody)
  • The statute(s) and offense(s) of which one was convicted (or adjudicated delinquent if a juvenile) 
  • The original indictment, complaint, or docket number
  • The date of conviction
  • The court where the conviction occurred

The court will require a Certificate of Disposition for each offense to be sealed. As such, a person may need to file more than one request. If a person had cases in multiple courts, they would need to send requests to each court individually; courts don’t keep each other’s records.

Where Can I Get This Information?

It can be surprisingly difficult to track all of this information down. The criminal justice system is split into multiple courts, prosecutors’ offices, and law enforcement agencies, each of which might have some portion of a person’s records.

It’s common for people not to know everything on their record. If this is the case, a good option is to request records from the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services. This involves having a fingerprint taken by a third-party company and then submitting the fingerprint to the Division of Criminal Justice Services. The Division will then mail that person a copy of their state criminal records within a few weeks. There are also some private companies that will provide fingerprinting services along with a copy of one’s criminal record.

Another good way to get complete records is to contact the lawyer who handled one’s case. Lawyers keep client records on file long after a case is finished. However, if a person has had different lawyers for different cases, they will need to contact all of these lawyers.

Finally, while there are private online databases that sell people’s criminal records, it’s not a good idea to use these for record sealing purposes. These websites often don’t contain all of the information the court will need to process the record sealing. For example, they might have arrest records or conviction records, but they often don’t keep track of case numbers or when a matter was disposed of. Additionally, they might not have a person’s entire record.

Who Should I Contact if I Need My Record Sealed?

If you or a loved one is interested in having a criminal record sealed, contact Rosenblum Law for a free consultation once you have Certificates of Disposition or all the required information for each offense. Without this information, there is no way to determine eligibility to have your record sealed. Call us at 888-815-3649.

Call Us
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap