You cannot expunge a criminal record in New York state. Records for noncriminal offenses and arrests that did not resolve in convictions can be "sealed," however. Sealed cases are removed from your criminal record, and your fingerprints, palm prints and photo are destroyed. Your complete rap sheet remains with the Division of Criminal Justice Services in Albany in a confidential file and is released only if you apply to carry a gun or for a job that requires that you carry a gun, you are arrested while on probation or parole, or because "justice requires" the information be made available to a law enforcement officer.
Review your criminal history to see if your arrest led to a conviction or if your case was a criminal violation instead of a criminal offense. Any prosecution that occurred after November 1991 and involved a dismissal, adjournment in contemplation of a dismissal (ACD) or a decline of prosecution should be sealed. If your case was not sealed or you were arrested prior to 1991, you can contact the court that tried your case and apply to have the case sealed.
Review your criminal history to see if your violation was for prostitution or a DUI. These two offenses are exceptions to the criminal violation rules and cannot be sealed.
Check your rap sheet to see if you were convicted of marijuana possession in an amount less than 7/8 oz. If you maintain a clean record for three years from your conviction date, you can have the case sealed.
Request a copy of your rap sheet to make sure cases are sealed. You should see an asterisk next to your arrest date and a "sealed 160.50" or "sealed 150.55" in the disposition column of your record for each docket or case number attached to the arrest. If the case is not correctly sealed on your rap sheet and was resolved after November 1991, send the court your disposition slip. If your case was resolved prior to this date, request that the clerk of the court to submit a second "sealing order" to the DCJS. Follow through in six months with another request to see your criminal history and check to make sure the notations appear.
It will take at a minimum three months to have your case sealed.
New York Criminal Procedure Law CPL §160.50 does not seal court files. A prospective employer that hires an investigator to do a background check will find your criminal record if it goes through court files.
- New York state contour against blurred USA flag image by Stasys Eidiejus from Fotolia.com