On your rap sheet you may see:
Under New York law, sealing is the process of removing criminal records from the view of the general public. Anyone, with the exception of statutorily-specified government agencies, doing a background check will not not see your criminal record in state and federal databases. This may, in some cases, include “rap sheets,” fingerprints, photographs, case files, and other information related to the case.
No. You cannot expunge or completely erase your criminal record or “rap sheet” in New York. However, you may be eligible to have your record sealed in New York. This will prevent most people from having access to or viewing your records located on state and federal databases. Please take our free eligibility test to determine if you are eligible to seal your New York criminal record.
The following categories of cases can be sealed in New York:
- CPL § 165.50 (full sealing)
- CPL § 165.55 (partial sealing)
- CPL § 165.58 (conditional sealing)
- 2010 amendment to Criminal Procedure Law Article 440
- 2010 amendment to Criminal Procedure Law Article 440
Our law firm provides legal services for the following sealing cases:
- Drug Conviction and non-drug Willard (Drug-Related) Offense Cases (CPL § 165.58 (conditional sealing)
- Prostitution-Related Crimes (non-loitering / victims of commercial sex trafficking) (New York Criminal Procedure – Article 440 – § 440.10 Motion to Vacate Judgment)
- Juvenile Record Sealing (CPL § 720.35)
Other legal service options:
- Certificate of Relief from Disabilities
- Certificate of Good Conduct
Offenses defined in article 220 (controlled substance offenses), article 221 (offenses involving marijuana), and “specified offenses” in article 410.91(5) are not automatically sealable. In New York, to seal your “rap sheet” you must do the following: (1) draft a conditional sealing motion, (2) file the motion with the appropriate county court, (3) attend an in-court hearing if a request by you or the “District Attorney” is granted by the judge, and (4) convince the judge that your motion should be granted. However, our law firm can accomplish those tasks for you. If you are unable to attend the in-court hearing, we can request for your presence to be excused and attend the hearing on your behalf. Note that if your motion is granted it will be “conditionally sealed.” Therefore, if you are re-arrested, your previous criminal record will automatically be unsealed.
Drug-related offenses such as a felony drug or marijuana offense or a non-drug Willard (eligible) offense require you to file a conditional sealing motion with proper county court. CPL §160.58(2) states that the court “may order all official papers relating to the arrest, prosecution and conviction which resulted in the defendant’s participation in the judicially sanctioned drug treatment program be conditionally sealed.” To be eligible for conditional sealing of a drug-related felony or misdemeanor you must (1) complete a “court-sanctioned substance abuse treatment program” (Diversion, DTAP, or a similar substance abuse treatment program recognized by the court) (2) complete any other sentence imposed following the completion of treatment, and (3) have no pending charges. You may file a motion with the court to conditionally seal a drug-related conviction and up to three (3) of your prior article 220 or 221 misdemeanor convictions (drug-related misdemeanor offenses). Once your “rap sheet” is sealed your records will not be available to anyone except: (1) you, as the defendant or your designated agent and (2) “qualified agencies.” CPL § 160.58(6) The following offenses (felonies and misdemeanors) may be conditionally sealed:
A Juvenile Delinquent (JD) is a person between the ages of 7 and 16 charged with a crime that would be a crime for an adult. A Family Court Judge will determine if the respondent will be classified as a JD. A JD adjudication should be automatically sealed, but is still available to law enforcement agencies and prosecutor offices.
If your JD record was not automatically sealed as required by law, you should file a sealing motion in the Family Court where your case was heard (NY Family Ct. Act §375.2(1), (6)). There are no filing fees.
If you are between the ages of 16 and 18 and convicted of a crime as an adult, the judge may grant you youthful offender (YO) status if deemed “in the interest of justice.” The purpose of YO status is to relieve eligible youth from the disabilities of having a criminal record. A YO record is not a criminal conviction and should be automatically sealed. Such confidential records on file with the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), law enforcement (police) agencies, and court cannot be seen by anyone. However, the following exceptions apply: (CPL §720.35)
Removal to Family Court – Sealing CPL 725.15
When a Juvenile Offender case is removed from the Criminal Court to Family Court pursuant to CPL 180.75, all records of the criminal court proceeding should be automatically sealed. Access to the sealed records are governed by the provisions of the Family Court Act. If your YO record was not sealed and still appears on your criminal record, your sealing motion will need to be filed using the same procedures outlined for sealing adult criminal records
A person between the ages of 13 and 15 may be tried as a juvenile offender (JO) for certain felonies, which are determined on a case-by-case basis. These felonies are not eligible for sealing and will be a matter of public record.
If your criminal record or “rap sheet” cannot be sealed, you may seek relief by obtaining a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities or a Certificate of Good Conduct. These certificates:
Neither certificate wipes your record clear, but they can restore your rights and help you gain employment and access to certain benefits, like public housing, and obtain an occupational license. Certificates can remove these “statutory bars.” Once the court grants either of these certificates, an employer must legally presume that you have been rehabilitated. As a result, an employer or licensing agency has to consider you on an individual basis. Unless the conviction is directly related to your ability to perform the job, an employer should not reject your application solely based on your conviction
The waiting period begins at the time of your last release from incarceration to community supervision, or discharge from incarceration by maximum expiration, or your last criminal conviction (which ever comes later).
If your case was “terminated in your favor” or you were convicted of a sealable violation or traffic infraction, DCJS will automatically seal the case unless there is a “do not seal” order. If your record should have been sealed but was not, you should contact the court clerk in the county you were convicted and ask them what procedure to follow to get your case sealed. The court will require you to either mail them a letter or apply in person before they will issue you an order sealing your record. You will need a copy of your criminal record from the DCJS or the New York Unified Court System. You must then mail the “official disposition slip,” along with a letter explaining that you want to have your case sealed to the DCJS.
Court addresses: https://www.nycourts.gov
Division of Criminal Justice Services Sealed Records Unit 4 Tower Place Albany, NY 12203-3764 www.criminaljustice.ny.gov
There are five (5) ways to obtain a copy of your criminal record or rap sheet to prepare for your sealing motion in New York:
New York CPL § 160.58 Conditional sealing of certain controlled substance, marihuana or specified offense convictions.
1. A defendant convicted of any offense defined in article two hundred twenty or two hundred twenty-one of the penal law or a specified offense defined in subdivision five of section 410.91 of this chapter who has successfully completed a judicial diversion program under article two hundred sixteen of this chapter, or one of the programs heretofore known as drug treatment alternative to prison or another judicially sanctioned drug treatment program of similar duration, requirements and level of supervision, and has completed the sentence imposed for the offense or offenses, is eligible to have such offense or offenses sealed pursuant to this section.
2. The court that sentenced the defendant to a judicially sanctioned drug treatment program may on its own motion, or on the defendant’s motion, order that all official records and papers relating to the arrest, prosecution and conviction which resulted in the defendant’s participation in the judicially sanctioned drug treatment program be conditionally sealed. In such case, the court may also conditionally seal the arrest, prosecution and conviction records for no more than three of the defendant’s prior eligible misdemeanors, which for purposes of this subdivision shall be limited to misdemeanor offenses defined in article two hundred twenty or two hundred twenty-one of the penal law.
The court may only seal the records of the defendant’s arrests, prosecutions and convictions when:
(a) the sentencing court has requested and received from the division of criminal justice services or the Federal Bureau of Investigation a fingerprint based criminal history record of the defendant, including any sealed or suppressed information. The division of criminal justice services shall also include a criminal history report, if any, from the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding any criminal history information that occurred in other jurisdictions. The division is hereby authorized to receive such information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation for this purpose. The parties shall be permitted to examine these records;
(b) the defendant or court has identified the misdemeanor conviction or convictions for which relief may be granted;
(c) the court has received documentation that the sentences imposed on the eligible misdemeanor convictions have been completed, or if no such documentation is reasonably available, a sworn affidavit that the sentences imposed on the prior misdemeanors have been completed; and
(d) the court has notified the district attorney of each jurisdiction in which the defendant has been convicted of an offense with respect to which sealing is sought, and the court or courts of record for such offenses, that the court is considering sealing the records of the defendant’s eligible misdemeanor convictions. Both the district attorney and the court shall be given a reasonable opportunity, which shall not be less than thirty days, in which to comment and submit materials to aid the court in making such a determination.
3. At the request of the defendant or the district attorney of a county in which the defendant committed a crime that is the subject of the sealing application, the court may conduct a hearing to consider and review any relevant evidence offered by either party that would aid the court in its decision whether to seal the records of the defendant’s arrests, prosecutions and convictions. In making such a determination, the court shall consider any relevant factors, including but not limited to:
(i) the circumstances and seriousness of the offense or offenses that resulted in the conviction or convictions; (ii) the character of the defendant, including his or her completion of the judicially sanctioned treatment program as described in subdivision one of this section; (iii) the defendant’s criminal history; and (iv) the impact of sealing the defendant’s records upon his or her rehabilitation and his or her successful and productive reentry and reintegration into society, and on public safety.
4. When a court orders sealing pursuant to this section, all official records and papers relating to the arrests, prosecutions, and convictions, including all duplicates and copies thereof, on file with the division of criminal justice services or any court shall be sealed and not made available to any person or public or private agency; provided, however, the division shall retain any fingerprints, palmprints and photographs, or digital images of the same.
5. When the court orders sealing pursuant to this section, the clerk of such court shall immediately notify the commissioner of the division of criminal justice services, and any court that sentenced the defendant for an offense which has been conditionally sealed, regarding the records that shall be sealed pursuant to this section.
6. Records sealed pursuant to this subdivision shall be made available to:
(a) the defendant or the defendant’s designated agent;
(b) qualified agencies, as defined in subdivision nine of section eight hundred thirty-five of the executive law, and federal and state law enforcement agencies, when acting within the scope of their law enforcement duties; or
(c) any state or local officer or agency with responsibility for the issuance of licenses to possess guns, when the person has made application for such a license; or
(d) any prospective employer of a police officer or peace officer as those terms are defined in subdivisions thirty-three and thirty-four of section 1.20 of this chapter, in relation to an application for employment as a police officer or peace officer; provided, however, that every person who is an applicant for the position of police officer or peace officer shall be furnished with a copy of all records obtained under this paragraph and afforded an opportunity to make an explanation thereto.
7. The court shall not seal the defendant’s record pursuant to this section while any charged offense is pending.
8. If, subsequent to the sealing of records pursuant to this subdivision, the person who is the subject of such records is arrested for or formally charged with any misdemeanor or felony offense, such records shall be unsealed immediately and remain unsealed; provided, however, that if such new misdemeanor or felony arrest results in a termination in favor of the accused as defined in subdivision three of section 160.50 of this article or by conviction for a non criminal offense as described in section 160.55 of this article, such unsealed ecords shall be conditionally sealed pursuant to this section.