Expungement and Sealing Procedures in New York City
A common misconception of the criminal justice system is that once the imposed sentence has been served and fines paid the ordeal is over and life can resume much as it did before. Unfortunately, not every satisfied sentence comes replete with meaningful second chances. Since arrests and judgments of conviction are a part of the public record, a conviction for a misdemeanor or felony offense can and often does have an undesirable ripple effect on employment, housing and immigrations status.
Additionally, the criminal justice system – like society as a whole – treats those with criminal convictions much differently than those without, with the most significant example being longer jail sentences for repeat offenders. In sum, the adverse effects of a criminal conviction on both liberty and civil rights survive long after successful service of the sentence. Hiring a top New York expungement attorney, as early as arrest, to work toward a hopeful dismissal or a settlement of the charges with the state as a non-criminal disposition should always be the first choice. However, if this outcome does not occur, one of our dedicated attorneys could help you through the expungement and sealing procedures in New York City.
When is Someone Eligible to Have their Record Expunged or Sealed?
The expungement and sealing process is not available in every case. Traditionally, these remedies were only available to individuals that participated in diversion programs or were never technically convicted of a crime. That said, state law has evolved to allow expungement or record sealing in a variety of cases, including some felonies. Some offenses that are not eligible for sealing include:
- Aggravated sexual abuse
- Assault on a judge
- Placing a false bomb
- Menacing a police officer
- Criminal possession of a weapon
An experienced attorney can advise whether or not a conviction is eligible for expungement. Not only are some of these offenses not an option for sealing or expungement, other convictions could result in a sealed record automatically over time. It is vital that anyone seeking relief from the collateral consequences of their conviction to discuss expungement and sealing options with legal counsel in New York City immediately.
How Long Must a Person Wait to Petition for a Sealed Record?
It can take time before a person is eligible to have their record sealed. Under state law, a person must be conviction free for the ten years prior to their request to seal criminal records. It is important to note that this 10-year window does not include any time spent incarcerated. This is true even in cases where a person is incarcerated on different charges than the offense they seek to seal. For example, a person that was convicted of a crime 12 years prior could be eligible to have their records sealed. However, if they were incarcerated up until one year ago, they can expect to wait an additional 9 years before a sealed record or expungement is an option in New York City.
For those with existing prior misdemeanors or felony convictions, contacting one of our top New York City expungement lawyers is a prudent first step in determining whether you may be eligible for relief from the societal and employment consequences of your criminal record. State legislature has passed a series of laws that allow, in limited circumstances, persons with prior criminal convictions to have their record sealed through an order of conditional sealing by the court. Alternatively, a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities and Forfeitures or Certificate of Good Conduct may lift some of the most burdensome civil restrictions set after conviction, including statutory bars on employment and loss of driving privileges.
How a New York City Attorney Could Help with Expungement Proceedings
Whichever you may think you qualify for, retaining top New York expungement and sealing lawyers for the application process may not just be preferable but necessary for relief from a prior criminal conviction. The New York Legislature has required applicants for either an order to seal a criminal record or certificate of relief to undergo an extensive vetting process which may include a formal hearing before the court or parole board. And without retained counsel, you will be on your own to support your application if relief is contested, which it often is, by the state.
With your livelihood at stake, please don’t make the mistake of filing these applications alone. Our team could help you through the expungement and sealing procedures in New York City. A favorable outcome in any application for relief from the collateral consequences of a state and federal conviction may turn on their help.