How to File for Expungement in New York

By Danielle Smyth - Updated October 15, 2018
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Crimes in New York State can remain on your permanent record for a substantial period of time or even indefinitely, depending on your age at the time they were committed and the nature of the crime. New York does not offer expungement of records, but you may be able to have your records sealed. In addition, after seven years, certain crimes cannot be reported when your record is pulled for things like job applications.

Tip

In New York, it is not possible to have your records expunged. However, you may request have them sealed.

Expungement in New York

You might wish to file for expungement of your criminal records in NY. However, unlike many other states, New York does not have any laws permitting records to be expunged, or removed, from your permanent record. What the state does offer, though, is the ability in certain instances to seal your records.

Sealed records still exist in the court system no matter what. However, if you are able to get your records sealed, all related fingerprints, booking photos and DNA samples could be returned to you or destroyed. In addition, records in the systems of the Department of Criminal Justice, law enforcement and prosecutors, as well as some court records, are hidden from the public.

Some types of cases are automatically sealed. These include cases in which you get a good result (this can be scenarios involving acquittal or dismissal) and crimes committed by children or youthful offenders. In addition, some violations or traffic infractions, like disorderly conduct and trespassing, can be partially sealed.

How to Seal a Record

While you cannot expunge your criminal record, you might be able to seal a case. Speak with the clerk at the court that heard your case for details. Some courts have different procedures. The clerk may be able to submit a request for you, or you may need to submit a letter or a motion. Some cases may have been marked at the time of their hearing by a “do not seal” instruction, due to the nature of the crime. These cases cannot be sealed under any circumstances.

Correcting Errors with Sealed Records

In some instances, you may have a record that was supposed to be sealed that comes up in your criminal records search. You might learn about this error during a job search or application for an apartment. If this occurs, go to the court where the case was heard and request a Certificate of Disposition. If the case was sealed, the certificate should include a stamp that indicates as much. If it does not, you can ask the court clerk to check the case file to verify that it should be sealed. The court may need to simply add a stamp to your Certificate of Disposition. Send the stamped document to the Department of Criminal Justice along with a letter explaining the need for a correction in the files.

New York’s Seven-Year Rule

The seven-year rule is part of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which protects the rights of consumers in a variety of scenarios. This rule dictates how far back certain records can be pulled. In New York, civil suits, civil judgments, arrest records and paid tax liens must be removed from a consumer report after seven years. This means that applications for apartments or jobs, for instance, cannot include this sort of record once seven years have passed.

Note that you have a right to see a copy of any information that has disqualified you from a lease, job or other application under the FCRA. If you feel that records are appearing that shouldn’t be, since they were expunged in another state, sealed in New York or more than seven years old, the FCRA allows you to request a revision.

About the Author

Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. Her experience includes work in the insurance, workers compensation, disability, and background investigation fields. She owns her own content marketing agency and enjoys writing legal articles and blogs for clients in related industries.

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