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What is the Difference Between Record Sealing & Expungement?

What Does it Mean to EXPUNGE a Criminal Record?

Expungement of a criminal record means the conviction is completely erased and cannot be resurrected. The law treats an expunged record as if the conviction never happened. In a state that allows a record to be expunged, a person with an expunged record can say they have never been convicted of a crime. When a record is expunged, it cannot be used as the basis for an enhancement under the law if there is a new conviction. An expunged record, at least in theory, should not be available to anyone, even law enforcement authorities. Only a judge can order that a criminal record be expunged.

What Does it Mean to SEAL a Criminal Record?

Sealing a criminal record means that the record is sealed and cannot be made available to the public. The conviction still exists, but it will not be reported as part of a background check for the purposes of employment, housing, education and other important purposes.

A person with a sealed record can say they have never been convicted of a crime. However, a sealed record may still be used as the basis for an enhancement under the law if there is a new conviction. A sealed record is also accessible to law enforcement and certain other authorities, such as firearm licensing departments. Only a judge can order that a criminal record be sealed.

What Crimes Can Be Sealed in New York?

New York State does NOT permit criminal records to be expunged. New York only recently allowed for broad criminal record sealing of many non-violent felony and misdemeanor criminal records, including drug possession and driving while intoxicated (DWI/DUI) convictions, under CPL Section 160.59.

Contact us today to see how we can help seal your New York criminal record.

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