With the passage of New York Criminal Procedure Law (CPL) 160.59, New York now allows for the sealing of some misdemeanor and felony convictions. This means that the records of the conviction and other related information surrounding the case are no longer accessible through most public means.

The sealing of these records is not automatic. A motion and supporting documents must be filed with the court and served on the office of the District Attorney. Although not required, often individuals seeking to seal a criminal conviction retain an experienced sealing and expungement lawyer.

NOTE: The information on this blog is not a substitute for a consultation with an attorney. Eligibility criteria for sealing records may change over time and is subject to interpretation by the courts.

Except for some marijuana crimes, New York has no laws to erase or expunge criminal records. Expungement is the process of legally destroying or erasing a criminal record. In New York State, the process of expungement is not available. However, certain convictions can be sealed, which means that the record of the arrest and prosecution is not publicly available and is not accessible through a standard state background check.

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 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, but can still be accessed by certain government agencies and organizations.

It is important to note that not all criminal records are eligible to be sealed in New York State. Certain types of cases, such as those involving sex offenses or violent felonies, are not eligible for sealing. It is advisable to consult a lawyer to determine if your conviction is eligible to be sealed.

To be eligible, you must meet the following criteria:

  • At least 10 years must have passed between your sentencing or release from prison –  whichever is later –  and your application to the court;
  • You have no open cases.
  • You have two convictions or fewer on your criminal record. This means that you have no more than two misdemeanor convictions OR one felony and one misdemeanor conviction.
  • Your convictions are permitted to be sealed.

There are other criteria that the applicant must meet in order for their request to be considered. The applicant must prove they are morally rehabilitated and do not pose a risk to society. Your lawyer will help you with this requirement.

It's important to note that certain crimes are not eligible for sealing, such as sex offenses and violent felonies.

These crimes include:

  • Most sex offenses, including those that require sex offender registration;
  • Certain offenses defined by statute as “violent crimes,” even if no actual violence was involved;
  • Crimes categorized as class “A” felonies, the most serious crimes under New York law; and
  • Certain other felonies defined in the statute.

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. If you are applying to the military or for immigration purposes, your record becomes a matter of federal law.

It's important to note that the eligibility criteria for sealing records may change over time. It's advisable to consult a lawyer to determine if a specific crime is eligible for sealing.

The process of sealing a criminal record can take time, and the outcome is not guaranteed. The process can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case and the court where the motion is filed. However, it is important to note that the process can take several months. At the Law Office of Lisa Pelosi, we begin work once our retainer agreement is signed. We work at a rapid pace because we know how important getting this accomplished is to you.

Once the motion to seal the record is filed, the court will schedule a hearing, after which the judge will make a decision. The judge can grant or deny the motion or may take more time to review the case. If the motion is granted, the records will be sealed.

It is advisable to consult a lawyer for a more precise estimate of the time it will take to seal your criminal record in New York State.

When your criminal record is sealed, files related to your convictions only become available to certain legal authorities. The intention of the sealing laws is to provide an opportunity for individuals who have been convicted of a past crime and have successfully completed their sentence to have a second chance.

The main reasons to seal your New York State criminal conviction are: Job opportunities, Housing, Education, Professional Licensing, and Your Reputation.

The sealing of these records is not automatic, you need to file a motion on the court with supporting papers and serve the same on the District Attorney.

The process of sealing a criminal record in New York State can be complex. Below find the steps to seal your New York criminal conviction.

Step One: Determine if you are eligible to seal your criminal record. This includes assessing the type of crime you were convicted of, the length of time since the conviction, and whether you have any other criminal convictions.

Step Two: Gather Necessary Documents: You will need to gather all necessary documents such as court records, arrest records, and any other relevant documents that may be required to prove your eligibility.

Step Three: File a Motion: You will need to file and serve a motion to seal your record with the court and District Attorney where the conviction occurred. The motion will need to include the reasons why you believe your record should be sealed, along with any relevant supporting documents.

Step Four: District Attorney Decision: The District Attorney can consent to or oppose your motion.

Step Five: Hearing: The court will schedule a hearing where you, or your lawyer may need to appear and make a case for why your record should be sealed. The district attorney may also present their case.

Step Six: Decision: The court will make a decision on whether to seal the record based on the information provided.

Step Seven: Record Sealing: If the court grants the motion, the criminal records will be sealed.
It is important to note that the process may also vary depending on the court and the specific circumstances of the case.

After you have sealed your criminal conviction, you do not have to tell an employer about that part of your criminal record (NY Executive Law 296.16), unless a judge orders otherwise.

Exceptions include if you are applying to be a police or peace officer, in these cases your sealed convictions can be accessed.

Criminal violations may have severe consequences for immigrants, even if the crime is expunged, vacated or sealed. Sealing a criminal record means that it is not publicly available and is not accessible through a standard background check.

However, certain government agencies, such as immigration authorities, will be able to access sealed records. It's important to note that not all sealed records are treated the same way by all agencies.

If your sealed application is approved, you will get a court signed sealed order. If your criminal record can’t be sealed, you can apply for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities or a Certificate of Good Conduct. This is not the same as sealing your criminal record, but it may provide some help to you.

In New York, the only criminal records automatically sealed outside the provision of CPL 160.59 are cases where the defendant gets a good result (called a favorable disposition (CPL 160.50)) in a criminal case.

It's also important to note that even with a sealed record, it's legal in the state of New York to be asked about the arrest and the dismissal, but it's illegal to discriminate based on it.

If you think your case should have been sealed but was not, you can contact The Law Office of Lisa Pelosi at 845-999-9394.


You’ll receive a free, no-risk evaluation of your charges, typical sentences, the evidence against you, and other important aspects of your case.


State and federal cases accepted. Lisa gets to know you and listens to your side of the story without judgment.


Lisa is a seasoned trial and appellate attorney with more than 30 years of criminal law experience, including experience as a prosecutor.


Lisa Pelosi serves New York City and all of the Hudson Valley. 

The Law Office of Lisa Pelosi

For the best chance of getting your record sealed and clearing your criminal record, call Lisa Pelosi, an expert criminal conviction sealing attorney and former prosecutor with offices in Poughkeepsie and NYC serving the areas of: Hudson Valley including Dutchess County, Orange County, Westchester County, Rockland County, The Bronx and NYC.

Lisa and her team can also come to you. Lisa has over 30+ years’ experience as a NY Criminal Defense Attorney.

Lisa will advocate for you and make sure your arguments are strong enough to persuade the judge that you deserve to have your criminal record sealed.

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