CAN I GET MY RECORDS SEALED?
April 15, 2022
You don’t have to be convicted of a crime to have a criminal record. At least for a while, arrests without charges and charges without convictions also appear; so do acquittals. Criminal records are public records.
The only way to keep the blemishes on a criminal record hidden is to have it sealed. Whether your history is eligible for record sealing or not depends on certain factors. At Melanson Law Office P.C., I can help you figure it out and guide you through the process.
If you live or were charged, arrested, or convicted for a crime anywhere in New York’s Hudson Valley, including Kingston, Hudson, Catskill, Highland, Poughkeepsie, Saugerties, and New Paltz, let’s talk about your record.
Is Record Sealing or Expungement Better?
Expungement deletes all evidence of a crime. Record sealing removes certain information from public purview, but the record remains and can be opened under specific circumstances with the court’s permission by certain agencies, law enforcement, and immigration.
Obviously, expungement is the better option. However, New York law does not allow the expungement of any crimes. There are exceptions for certain marijuana convictions and for having your DNA records expunged if you have a related conviction reversed, overturned, or if you are pardoned of that crime. Otherwise, having your criminal record sealed is the only option.
Who Can Ask to Have Their Records Sealed?
Those who can ask to have their records sealed include individuals who have been convicted of noncriminal charges, such as traffic offenses, disorderly conduct, or trespassing, and for certain nonviolent drug convictions if you successfully completed a treatment or intervention program.
If you have two criminal convictions or less, only one of which can be for a felony, and you have remained crime-free for 10 years, you can petition the court to seal your records. The 10-year clock begins when the sentence was imposed or upon your release from incarceration.
Some records are sealed automatically, including those for which you received a favorable disposition, such as dropped charges, acquittals, dismissals, set-aside verdicts, and vacated judgments. Many records of crimes committed by children or other youthful offenders are also automatically sealed.
Who Is Not Eligible for Record Sealing?
There is a list of violent crimes and those involving victims which do not qualify for record sealing. Among them are such offenses as murder, manslaughter, assault, rape, sexual assault, firearms crimes, burglary, conspiracy, witness intimidation, crimes against children, and any crime that warrants sex offender registration.
Why Should I Seal My Records?
If you have a criminal record and you have not been denied employment, educational opportunities, child custody and visitation rights, or housing based on your history, you are fortunate. Without sealing your criminal record, your history will follow you throughout your lifetime.
If your record is sealed, an employer, for example, will not be able to see your record unless that job requires you to carry a firearm.
Having your criminal record sealed, particularly when you have remained free of crime since, is a smart choice.
How Do I Get Them Sealed?
You will need to submit an application to the court which rendered the conviction to have your criminal records sealed. You will need to provide certain evidence that supports your petition. You will also need to provide a copy of the application to the district attorney’s office in the county that prosecuted you. They are allowed 45 days to file an objection with the court.
If the court does not summarily seal your file, or if the district attorney files an objection, you will need to appear at one or more hearings scheduled by the court. The judge will enter a ruling to either seal your records or prohibit it. You can appeal an unfavorable decision if you have grounds to do so.
How Can an Attorney Help?
If you are interested in having your criminal records sealed, you should meet with an attorney who has experience with the record-sealing process to discuss your wishes. Your attorney can review your criminal history and advise you regarding eligibility for having your records sealed.
Although there are forms available for you to complete and return without counsel, working with a criminal defense attorney is a better way to make sure you have everything sealed from public view that you can. Certainly, if there is an objection filed or the judge orders a hearing, you should have legal counsel appear with you.
Record Sealing Attorney
in Kingston, New York
Not only do I have experience with successfully having clients’ criminal records sealed, but I also was a prosecuting attorney before I became a criminal defense attorney. I use that knowledge to anticipate objections to my clients’ applications and to gather and submit evidence that supports more complex applications.
If you live or were convicted in any of the jurisdictions throughout the Hudson Valley or Kingston, New York, I can assist you with your efforts to wipe the slate clean.
This can make a positive difference for your future. Call Melanson Law Office P.C. now.