How Do I Get a Misdemeanor Expunged in New York State?

••• Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Though misdemeanors are typically viewed as minor offenses, they can interfere with how your life functions. Individuals with a misdemeanor on their records sometimes face difficulty acquiring a good job, getting accepted into a university or passing a security clearance. Unfortunately, getting a misdemeanor expunged in New York State is difficult. However, it is possible in some cases.

Obtain a copy of your criminal record. According to New York State law, only cases involving controlled substances and non-criminal dispositions (e.g., traffic violations, disorderly conduct and loitering) may be expunged or "sealed." Keep in mind that you must be off probation or parole, and that you should have been crime-free for a period of no less than five years minimum.

Speak with an attorney. Show him your criminal record and explain everything that happened. In case you were charged but not convicted, you can have those charges permanently removed from your record. Any juvenile charges you acquired as a youth may also be expunged from your record. Additional cases that can be removed include any in which the final ruling was in your favor, in that you were deemed innocent.

File a court petition to have your record expunged. Assuming you meet the criteria previously laid forth, then you will need to proceed by either filing a petition or having your lawyer file the petition. Ideally, you should have the lawyer take care of this because he will know what needs to be included in the petition. Petitions that are not correctly written will automatically get thrown out of court.

Attend the court hearing. The judge may ask you to testify on your behalf. This will allow you to present your side of the story directly to her. Be honest and display remorse. Point out the ways in which you've changed your life around. If your charges were related to substance abuse, be prepared to take an in-court drug test.


  • Do not lie during the process.


About the Author

Vivek Saxena has been a full-time freelance writer since 2004, contributing to several online publications. Prior to becoming a writer, Saxena studied computer technology at Purdue University.

Photo Credits

  • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images