This page was designed to help our clients better understand our New York Conviction Record Sealing service. You will find answers to the questions we are most frequently asked. If your question is related to eligibility requirements please take the free online eligibility test.
Traditionally, the expungement of criminal records is when the case information is erased or destroyed in its entirety. While sealing of criminal records is when the information is hidden from public view, allowing access to the information in limited circumstances.
Unfortunately, there is no expungement relief available in New York. But the good news is that the record sealing available in New York is a robust relief that will prevent your criminal record from being viewed in most circumstances.
Yes, law enforcement agencies, including the court and prosecuting agencies will keep records of a sealed offense and can use the record if you are ever arrested or convicted of another offense.
Once sealed, all public agencies (such as the court, the prosecuting office, and the police agency or agencies involved) will seal your records and make them unavailable to any person or public or private agency with few exceptions. Consequently, neither the arrest or conviction record will appear on a commercial background check that reviews government records. However, your record will still show up on official criminal history reports, such as the ones used when you’re applying for a firearm license or purchasing a firearm, or 2) applying for prospective employment as a police officer or peace officer. Both state and federal law enforcement agencies will also continue to be able to access your record within the scope of their law enforcement duties, but cannot use the records for any other purpose.
Unfortunately, commercial background check companies may take up to one year to update their records to reflect the sealing. We can expedite the updating of commercial background checks companies and reduce the time it takes from about one year to less than 14 days. See our Expedited Record Clearance Update for information on this important step.
Under New York law, once an arrest or conviction has been sealed, you can legally deny the existence of the offense unless: 1) you’re applying for a license for or purchasing a firearm, or 2) applying for prospective employment as a police officer or peace officer.
If you’re applying to join the military or for immigration purposes, your record becomes a matter of federal law, not New York state law and you will likely need to disclose your cases in those situations as well.
No, your disposition does not matter. We can seal your conviction regardless of what you pled.
You may have up to two (2) convictions, but no more than one (1) felony conviction in order to still be eligible for New York Record Sealing. You can seal up to two convictions total.
Please take our free online eligibility test or contact us if you have any questions about your eligibility.
No, we go for you if a hearing is set. If the court requests your presence and you are unable to attend, then we will request for your presence to be excused.
Because this relief is a new service in New York from a new law, we are not sure how long the process will take. However, we expect a case to take about five to six months. This estimation is also based on how long other case types take in New York. Cases can take less or more time depending on the facts of the case, whether the DA is agreeing or objecting, the age of the case, etc. We work on your case as fast as we can and assist the court and DA in anything they need to get your case heard.
The courts work on a first-come, first-served basis. Therefore, the sooner you sign up, the sooner your case is heard and decided. If helpful, we will gladly write your employer or potential employer a letter letting them know we have reopened the case and are in the process of having your offense sealed.
You will receive a court order sealing your conviction. The general public will no longer have access to the records, and state law enforcement agencies will have more limited use for the records. After the case is sealed, only federal or state law enforcement entities using the record for 1) criminal investigation purposes, 2) issuance of licenses to possess or when purchasing firearms, or 3) in relation to an application for employment as a police officer or peace officer will have access to your sealed conviction records.
The court will send the granted order to the Division of Criminal Justice Services or any court who possesses the record(s) which will then make the records unavailable to any person or public or private agency with few exceptions. A sealing does not destroy the records but rather limits access to the record.
Each agency varies in the amount of time it will take for them to update their records. It also simply depends on how busy they are at the time they receive your granted order. The court will in most cases be the first to update its records and should be updated fairly soon after the judge grants the sealing. The other agencies take approximately 30 days to update their records.
If the case is denied, we evaluate the reason for the denial and determine the best way to proceed. If we do not believe that refiling would be successful or we recommend the person wait longer to refile, then there is the money back guarantee for certain services.
Cases are denied for the following reasons: (1) an inaccuracy in the court file, (2) an inaccuracy in the application, (3) the court does not believe it will be in the interest of public safety grant you the sealing, (4) you violated your probation or have not paid all your fines, or (5) you or the offense is otherwise not eligible for sealing.
Only federal or state law enforcement entities using the record for 1) criminal investigation purposes, 2) issuance of licenses to possess or when purchasing firearms, or 3) in relation to an application for employment as a police officer or peace officer will have access to your sealed conviction records. Thus, if you are answering to an agency that is not one of those instances, you can legally deny the existence of the records and the agency will likely not find out about them.
Your sealed criminal records can still be considered if you apply to become a police officer or peace officer. Having the offenses sealed should make it more likely to pass the required background checks, but there is no guarantee.
If you want to join the US military, then your record becomes a matter of federal law, not New York state law. All branches of the military will want to know about your offenses, even if they have been expunged or sealed. There is still a risk of being discharged from the military if you don’t tell them and they later find out about your record. You should always disclose your conviction, but also mention that your case was taken before a judge and was deemed in the interest of justice to seal the record from public view.
No. A sealing will clear the criminal records that relate to the offense but not the DMV record.
Criminal violations may have severe consequences for immigrants, even if the crime is expunged/vacated/sealed. Even minor offenses such as petty theft can make someone deportable or inadmissible, while more serious offenses such as burglary may not have the same consequences. Since each case is unique, getting a case-by-case analysis tailored to your specific facts is imperative. To find out if your criminal conviction will impact your immigration case, contacting a qualified immigration attorney is vital. Our in-house immigration attorney is available to answer questions at 714-617-8395.
If you have been convicted of minor offenses (including assault, dangerous driving, DUI, theft, shoplifting, unauthorized possession of firearms, possession of illegal substances, etc.) or indictable criminal offenses (including assault with a deadly weapon, manslaughter, etc.) you may be prohibited from entrance into Canada and further action will be required to find out whether you will be allowed entrance. The Canadian government has entered into an information sharing agreement with the United States, so the Canadian government will have whatever information the United States has on file. Therefore, the first thing you should do is clear your criminal record to the fullest extent possible before submitting to a background check. The benefit of sealing is that it will show the Canadian government that the matter was resolved and no longer considered a conviction and improve the odds of not being denied entry to Canada or being stuck at the border for lengthy interrogation. Even though it is our belief that Canada will still be able to see a sealed case, past clients have reported that Canada has allowed them entrance once they have received post-conviction relief, such as a sealing or an expungement.
No, sealing in New York does not restore your firearm rights and sealed records will still be available to agencies conducting firearm background checks.
If you are a convicted felon but you were not sentenced to prison for the felony conviction, you do not lose your right to vote. If, however, you were sentenced to prison for the felony conviction, getting that conviction sealed will not restore your voting rights. You will have to use some other method, such as a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities, Certificate of Good Conduct, or a pardon from the Governor.
In New York, you may serve on a jury if you: 1) are a United States citizen, 2) are over the age of eighteen, 3) are a resident of the county by which you are summoned, 4) are able to understand and communicate in English, 5) have not been convicted of a felony, unless you have had your rights restored.
Sealing does not restore your rights in New York if lost previously.
Call us at 917-475-2878 or Toll Free (877) 573-7273
Please take the free online eligibility test before calling.
Law Firm of Higbee & Associates
48 Wall St., Ste 1100
New York, NY 10005
*By Appointment Only