What Crime Can Be Expunged In New York?

by ECL Writer
Can You Expunge A Misdemeanor In New York?

You were convicted of a crime more than ten years ago. Since your arrest for petit theft, grand theft, assault, criminal possession of the stolen property, criminal possession or sale of a controlled substance, forgery, or whatever offense you pleaded guilty to in a New York court, you have been a law-abiding citizen. No matter how much you’ve tried to make up for your past mistakes, every employment check reveals your record, and you end up getting passed over.

In New York, is it currently possible to seal or expunge your criminal history? Exists a procedure or other means to keep employers from discovering an earlier case? Can felonies also be erased or can courts just seal misdemeanors? These queries can all be succinctly summarized. Are you qualified for sealing, and what are the steps involved?

Unfortunately, a felony or misdemeanor conviction cannot be sealed or purged in New York. One exception pertains to individuals who were found guilty of a specific drug possession charge and were sentenced to a drug treatment program; these cases are frequently eligible to be sealed.

The state of New York only allows for the erasure of someone’s criminal record under very specific conditions. For some offenses, the New York court automatically expunges your record. Any traffic infractions or charges deemed violations, such as a charge of disorderly conduct, will be automatically erased from your record if you were found guilty of them. Convictions for felonies and misdemeanors cannot be erased. Only some DNA records may be expunged under a particular clause.

Only in the unlikely event that a conviction for a crime or misdemeanor was overturned on appeal, a pardon was given, or the conviction was overturned by the court might this circumstance arise. Additionally, DNA data that were obtained in connection with a plea deal may be expunged. On the other hand, records connected to a conviction or plea bargain are not eligible for expungement.

Expunge And Sealing Record In New York Law

In New York, a criminal record can be either expunged or sealed, depending on the circumstances.

Expungement is the process of destroying or physically eliminating a criminal record so that it cannot be accessed or seen by the public. In New York, expungement is not available for most criminal offenses and is only granted in limited circumstances, such as when a person has been exonerated or pardoned for a crime.

Sealing, on the other hand, is the process of keeping a criminal record confidential so that it is not accessible to the public. This means that the record still exists, but it is not available for most employers, landlords, or others to see without a court order. In New York, certain low-level offenses can be sealed after a certain amount of time has passed since the conviction.

To determine whether your criminal record can be expunged or sealed, and to start the process, it is recommended that you consult with a qualified attorney who specializes in criminal law in New York.

In New York, there is no ‘expungement’ statute. But, defendants can apply to have their records sealed, which is – practically speaking – the same thing. Once given the right to have records sealed, then only a limited number of people can access your file and records. These records include things like fingerprint cards, arrest photos, DNA samples, and even court files. Some law enforcement officers and prosecutors may be able to access your file in the future, but a member of the public cannot.

New York CPL 160.50

CPL 160.50 refers to Section 160.50 of the New York Criminal Procedure Law (CPL), which governs the sealing of criminal records in the state of New York. This section provides the legal framework and procedures for sealing criminal records, including the types of crimes that are eligible for sealing and the steps that must be taken to initiate the process.

Under CPL 160.50, certain low-level offenses can be sealed after a certain amount of time has passed since the conviction. For example, most misdemeanors can be sealed after ten years, while some nonviolent felonies can be sealed after 10 years. However, there are certain offenses, such as sex crimes, violent crimes, and crimes involving public corruption, that cannot be sealed in New York.

To initiate the sealing process, you must file a motion in the court where you were convicted, and provide notice to the appropriate district attorney’s office. The court will then review your case and determine whether to grant the sealing based on the circumstances of your case, your criminal history, and the interests of justice.

What can be sealed under the new law?

Courts will now have the discretion to seal up to two convictions, with only one that can be a felony, for any crime other than sex offenses, Class A felonies, and violent felonies. Multiple eligible convictions that were committed as part of the same transaction are considered to be one conviction under this statute. CPL 160.59(1)(a). The requirement is that the defendant must wait at least 10 years from the date of conviction or release from prison, and then records will be sealed from the public. On top of this, the New York Human Rights Law was also amended, which prevents employers and occupational licensing agencies from asking about or discriminating against individuals for a sealed conviction. So, for example, a woman who committed an assault in the 3rd degree in 2004, but was sentenced to probation for 2 years would be eligible to apply, as would a Brooklyn man convicted of a misdemeanor DWI conviction in 2002 who served 2 years’ probation.

What cannot be sealed under the new law?

Generally speaking, sexual offenses and violent crimes will still not be able to be sealed under the law. This includes:

  • A sex offense under CPL 130, all the way from misdemeanor sexual misconduct (CPL 130.20), to felony rape (CPL 130.25-130.35). Also included in these crimes are sexual abuse (130.65), aggravated sexual abuse (130.70), and even female genital mutilation (130.85).
  • Sexual offenses under CPL 263 are also prohibited from being sealed under the law. These crimes involve sexual acts with a child, including the use of a child in a sexual performance, (CPL 263.10) or child porn (possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child) (CPL 263.11).
  • In addition to these sexually-based offenses, any offenses that require the defendant to register as a sex offender will not be eligible for a seal.
  • Murder can also never be sealed, along with the other charges in CPL 125, such as vehicular manslaughter (CPL 125.13), manslaughter (125.20), and even illegal abortion (125.45).
  • Violent felonies will not be sealed under the new law. The appropriate penal code section is CPL 70.02, which has a veritable laundry list of violent crimes for which this new law will not affect.
  • Any class A felony will not be sealed, nor will any conspiracy convictions where the underlying offense would not be eligible for sealing. So, for instance, if the individual is convicted only of conspiracy to murder, even if it was not completed, this crime would not be eligible to be sealed because the underlying offense (murder) is also not eligible to be sealed.
  • To the same end, any felony attempt to commit any underlying offense that is ineligible would also not be available to seal.

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