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Who Qualifies for an Expungement in New York City? The Process

Who Qualifies for an Expungement in New York City? The Process

Who Qualifies for an Expungement in New York City?

In New York, you may qualify for an expungement if:

  • You were arrested but not convicted. If the charges were dismissed, withdrawn, acquitted at trial, or resolved in your favor, you may be able to have the arrest sealed from your record.
  • You were convicted of a violation, misdemeanor, or felony offense and have completed your sentence. Certain waiting periods apply depending on the type of offense.
  • You were convicted as a young adult between the ages of 16-19 under New York’s youthful offender status. This gives judges discretion to seal convictions from public view.

There are certain convictions that do not qualify for expungement in New York, such as violent felonies, sex offenses, and Class A felonies. Talk to an expungement lawyer in NYC to understand your specific eligibility.

The New York Expungement Process Step-by-Step

Getting an arrest or conviction sealed in New York City involves navigating the legal system. Here are the basic steps:

1. Determine If You Are Eligible

The first step is to review the details of your criminal record and charges. Were you convicted or did the case get dismissed? What level of offense is it classified as under New York law? Understanding this background will allow an attorney to determine if you meet the legal requirements for an expungement.

2. Obtain Your RAP Sheet

Your RAP sheet is your official record of arrests and prosecutions in New York state. Get a copy of your RAP sheet from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) to review. This will help determine eligibility and what exactly you are seeking to seal.

3. Complete Required Waiting Periods

New York law requires certain waiting periods to pass before you can apply to seal a conviction. The waiting period required depends on the type of offense:

  • Violations: No waiting period
  • Misdemeanors: 5 years for A and B misdemeanors; 3 years for C, D, and E misdemeanors
  • Felonies: 10 years for all felony offenses

The waiting period starts once you’ve completed your entire criminal sentence, including incarceration, probation, and payment of all fines and fees.

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4. File a Petition to Seal

To request a New York expungement, you must file a formal legal petition in court. An expungement lawyer can handle this process for you, including drafting the petition detailing why your record should be sealed under the law.

5. Attend Court Hearing(s)

The judge will schedule one or more hearings to review your petition to seal and make a decision. You or your lawyer will attend these hearings and may be asked to provide testimony or documentation to support your expungement request.

6. Court Decision

If the judge determines you qualify for an expungement and sealing your record is appropriate, the court will issue a written order directing relevant agencies to seal your files from public databases. However, if the judge denies your petition, you may be able to file an appeal to fight the decision.

Finding an Expungement Attorney in New York City

Trying to handle the expungement process on your own can be extremely difficult. Working with an experienced NYC expungement lawyer improves your chances of success tremendously. Look for an attorney who specifically handles record sealing cases and understands all the intricacies involved.

When researching expungement lawyers in New York City, Avvo, LawInfo, and FindLaw are helpful directories to find seasoned local professionals. Schedule consultations to discuss your situation and choose an attorney you feel comfortable with.

The Benefits of Getting an NYC Conviction Sealed

If you qualify for and obtain a New York expungement, the benefits can be tremendous, such as:

  • Your criminal record will be shielded from many background checks used for jobs, housing, schools, and other purposes.
  • You can legally answer “no” if asked whether you have a criminal record in many contexts.
  • Sealing arrests or convictions removes a barrier to obtaining professional licenses for certain careers.
  • An expungement gives you a clean slate and chance to move forward in life without a conviction holding you back.

However, it’s important to note that an expungement does not completely erase or delete a case from your criminal history. Law enforcement and some government agencies still have access to sealed records. But an expungement removes cases from public view and lifts barriers caused by a criminal record.

Understanding New York’s Expungement Laws

Navigating New York’s expungement process and requirements can be confusing. State laws regarding record sealing and expungement eligibility are complex with many nuances. Some key statutes governing New York expungements include:

These statutes establish eligibility rules, waiting periods, procedures, and other expungement requirements under New York law. Given the complexity involved, having an experienced criminal lawyer handle your specific record sealing case is critical.

Expungement FAQs

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about expungements in NYC:

How much does it cost to get a record sealed in New York City?

Between attorneys fees and filing fees, expect to spend around $3,000 or more for a New York expungement. Cases involving multiple convictions or complex issues may cost more.

How long does it take to seal a criminal record in NYC?

The entire expungement process typically takes 6 to 12 months from start to finish in New York. Factors impacting the timeline include the court’s schedule, whether hearings get delayed, and if appeals are necessary.

Can I get a job with a sealed conviction in New York?

In many cases, yes – if your record is sealed, you can legally answer “no” when asked about previous convictions on job applications. This opens up opportunities with employers that run background checks.

What shows up on an FBI background check after an expungement?

Cases sealed at the state level in New York may still appear in an FBI background check. However, the records are supposed to be marked to show the case was expunged under state law.


For those eligible under New York law, getting an arrest or conviction sealed through an expungement can provide enormous benefits. However, understanding eligibility rules and navigating the sealing process often requires professional legal help. Connecting with an experienced NYC expungement lawyer is key to giving yourself the best possible chance at success.


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