When a person is convicted of committing a crime, the penalties which tend to cause the most worry are often the formal penalties, such as prison, fines, and community service. However, these court-imposed consequences are not the only repercussions of having a conviction in your past. You will also be burdened with a criminal record, which can continue to have a negative impact on your life long after you have served your time and paid your fines.
Being convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor can show up on your permanent criminal record forever. This carries a stigma that can impact your ability to attend a university, or to gain certain professional certifications. Additionally, because the overwhelming majority of large employers conduct background checks on prospective hires, a criminal past can hinder your ability to maintain steady employment.
However, in certain cases, it may be possible to seal the information so that you can move on with your life. To set up a confidential legal consultation, call the law offices of Queens criminal record expungement lawyer Victor Knapp at (718) 263-9000 today.
What is the Difference Between Expungement, Sealing, and Confidentiality?
An expungement means that the record has been fully deleted or removed from the criminal justice system: in other words, destroyed. Expungements are not generally available for convictions, though they may be available for infractions or minor traffic violations.
However, even if an expungement is unattainable, you may be able to seal the information instead. A sealed record is not deleted, but is made inaccessible to the public. That means that while your record will still exist, it will only be accessible in very limited circumstances. Most beneficially, sealed records are not accessible to employers. It is illegal for an employer to ask about or refer to sealed information.
Finally, a record with a Youthful Offender or Juvenile Delinquent status is held confidentially. While the police and courts will hold onto the adjudication, it is inaccessible and will not be disclosed in most circumstances, similar to information which has been sealed.
In New York, the process for removing violations, cases without a conviction, Juvenile Delinquencies, marijuana offenses, and limited misdemeanors and felonies is technically sealing, because the court documents themselves are not destroyed. However, there is an element of expungement in the process as well, because the arrest record and processing information are destroyed at the police level.
Sealing Your Criminal Record in New York
Various legal matters can be removed from your record through the sealing process. In New York, these include:
Juvenile Delinquencies — Juvenile Delinquencies, or JDs, are convictions of individuals aged 7 to 16. While remaining accessible within the justice system (to be considered in the event of any future offenses), JD records are kept confidential. However, it should be noted that if the offender is aged 13 to 15 and commits a very serious crime, such as rape, he or she will be treated as an adult.
Cases Without Conviction — If you received a dismissal, acquittal, or if there was a lack of prosecution, your offense can generally be sealed. However, if your charge was dismissed specifically because you were convicted or pleaded guilty to a lesser offense, then sealing may not be available.
Violations — Non-criminal violations can generally be sealed. These include loitering, trespassing, and disorderly conduct. However, in cases of DWI/DWAI, cases where the judge’s order prohibits sealing, and cases of loitering in a sexually deviant manner, sealing is not available.
Convictions for Possession of Marijuana — If you were convicted for marijuana possession of less than 7/8ths of an ounce of marijuana before 1991, despite being classed as a violation the conviction will not be automatically sealed. This means you may have to file a motion if you want the record to be sealed.
Limited Felonies and Misdemeanors — Beginning in 2009, in very limited circumstances certain felonies and misdemeanors may be conditionally sealed. To qualify, you must complete a court-ordered alcohol or drug treatment program, as well as any other sentence imposed. Additionally, no other charges may be pending. Violent crimes cannot be sealed.
For most people who are applying for a job outside of law enforcement or public safety, sealing will prevent your potential employer from ever seeing your arrest record. However, if you are applying for a gun or a job that requires you to carry a gun, your information will be visible to the agency or employer. Likewise, if you are seeking to enlist in the military, the branch of the military you are enlisting in will also be able to view the sealed record. Outside of these few exceptions, sealing will be sufficient for most employment purposes.
Contact Us Today
You have already repaid your debt to society. You should no longer have to be burdened with the mistakes of your past for the rest of your future. To set up a confidential case evaluation, call the law offices of Queens criminal record expungement attorney Victor Knapp, Esq., at (718) 263-9000. You can also contact us online.