When someone is convicted of a crime, they can be left with the shadow of a criminal record looming over them. A criminal record can make the everyday life of a person difficult. It depicts the person as dangerous, sneaky, untrustworthy, reckless, and careless.

Luckily, you can take advantage of record sealing and expungement in New York to help you hide your criminal record. A Long Island criminal lawyer with experience in record sealing and expungement can prevent a credit agency, prospective employer, government official, or landlord from seeing your criminal record when doing background checks on you.

Record sealing and expungement are different processes but available in many states in the U.S. If you want a fresh start, learn more about the two processes and seek answers to any of your questions.

How Is Record Sealing Different from Expungement?

The difference between record sealing and expungement is mainly technical, but the two are basically the same. When a record is sealed, the criminal record still exists but cannot be accessed by individuals. Only certain government agencies like law enforcement and courts can see the record.

In an expungement, however, the records are entirely eliminated as if the crime never happened. In New York State, you can only get your criminal record sealed. Expungements are not offered in the state.

Do I Qualify for Criminal Record Sealing?

Not anyone can have their records sealed in New York. A person must first be eligible to apply for sealing. In addition, being eligible for sealing doesn’t mean you will automatically succeed in sealing your records. It just means that the judge will consider your application.

With the help of a Long Island sealing attorney, you can determine whether you are eligible to apply for record sealing or not. However, the criteria are listed below:

  • Absence of current or pending criminal charges
  • 10 years have passed since your sentence or release from prison
  • You have not exhausted the maximum number of convictions you can seal in New York
  • You don’t have more than two convictions on your record
  • You don’t have recent criminal convictions

What Type of Cases Can Be Automatically Sealed in Long Island, NY?

If a case is concluded in favor of the defendant, it may be sealed without further steps from them. A case is concluded in favor of the defendant if:

  • The defendant was acquitted
  • The case was dismissed
  • The prosecutor declined to prosecute
  • Conviction was vacated

For children and youthful defendants, their records may be sealed automatically. Certain traffic violations and infractions may also be sealed.

What Type of Cases Can Be Sealed in Long Island, NY?

You can seal only 2 convictions in New York, with only 1 being a felony. All misdemeanors are eligible for sealing except where one is required to register as a sex offender.

Others include:

  • Non-criminal violations, e.g., Trespassing
  • Charge with no conviction
  • Drug possession of less than 7/8 of an ounce of marijuana, three years after being convicted
  • Certain felonies where no additional pending charges exist and have satisfied any court-mandated program

Anyone in Long Island who wants to have their record sealed must seek the help of a skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyer who can help file a motion in court on their behalf and petition to seal their records. Because this is not easy, you need a qualified Long Island record-sealing attorney who understands the process.

What Type of Crimes Cannot Be Sealed in NY?

Some crimes are viewed as having substantial risk to the public and therefore don’t qualify for sealing. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Most sex offenses
  • Class A felonies, which are the most serious crimes in New York
  • Certain offenses categorized as “violent crimes
  • Certain felonies defined in the statute

Offenses like simple assault, drug possession, vandalism, theft, and public intoxication are all eligible for sealing. It’s best to speak to a skilled attorney handling criminal cases in Suffolk County who can inform you whether your crime is eligible for sealing or not.

Who Can See a Sealed Record?

The main difference between a sealed record and expungement is that criminal records that are sealed still exist and can be seen by certain individuals, like:

  • You
  • An employer, if your job requires you to carry a gun
  • Any person you authorize to access your records
  • Your parole officer, if you are arrested while on probation or parole
  • Prosecutor or law enforcement through a court order signed by the judge. It occurs mostly if you are arrested for a crime related to your sealed crime.

How Do I Seal a Record In New York?

It may take approximately 90 days to have a criminal record sealed in New York.

The procedure will involve the following:

  • Filing an application while providing any supporting documents
  • Submitting the application to the court which presides over the criminal offense. You can address the judge who presided over the case if s/he is still in the same court.
  • Submitting a copy of the application to the District Attorney (DA) where the conviction happened. The DA has 45 days to respond to the court if there’s an objection.
  • If the judge doesn’t deny the application after the objection of the DA, a hearing may be requested. Your skilled Long Island criminal lawyer will then present additional evidence and arguments in your favor.
  • Judge issues a ruling

A Professional Defense Lawyer Helping You Get a Fresh Start

A criminal record can make your life difficult. Luckily, our experienced record sealing lawyer in Long Island understands the processes and laws involved. We can help you determine your eligibility for criminal record sealing in New York.

Our Mineola criminal defense law firm is ready to help you with the process. Once your records are sealed, you don’t have to worry about missed opportunities like a job, housing, or loan. Schedule a FREE consultation with us, and we will give you the advice and guidance to help you move forward.