Sealed Criminal Records

Except for some marijuana crimes, New York has no laws to erase or “expunge” criminal records. New York uses a process called sealing for some cases. Sealing means that the record still exists, but all related fingerprint and palmprint cards, booking photos, and DNA samples may be returned to you or destroyed (except digital fingerprints are not destroyed if you already have fingerprints on file from a different unsealed case). Department of Criminal Justice System, Police, Prosecutor, and in some cases, court records, are hidden from the public.

The following cases are closed or sealed without you having to do anything:

If a record that is supposed to be sealed comes up on your Criminal Records search, you can ask to seal that record. See Criminal Records: Correcting Mistakes.

Felonies and Misdemeanors

You can ask the court to seal certain felony and misdemeanor convictions:

Certain marijuana misdemeanors are expunged and treated as if they never happened. Read Marijuana and Expungement.

If your criminal history record can’t be sealed, you can still get some of your rights back by getting a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities or a Certificate of Good Conduct. Read Getting Rights Back to learn more.

Who Can See Sealed Records?

When a criminal case is sealed, records can still be seen by:

  • You, the defendant (with i.d.)
  • Someone you authorize to ask for your records (with i.d.)
  • Your employer if you apply for a job where you carry a gun
  • Your parole officer, if you are arrested while on parole or probation
  • The prosecutor if you move for an ACD on a marijuana charge
  • A law enforcement agency after a request to the court

Out-of-state and federal arrests and convictions are not a part of your New York criminal record. New York’s sealing rules have no effect on them.

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