If you have previously been arrested in New York, you may be wondering if there are ways to seal a criminal case. Under New York Law, some lower-level cases seal automatically after a certain time period. Other cases require a judge’s approval on sealing. Yet, some other cases or convictions cannot be sealed. Generally speaking, what you need to do to seal a criminal case depends on:
- The severity of the crime that you are charged with, AND
- How your case resolved.
What Are the Different Resolutions of New York Criminal Cases?
In New York criminal practice, cases can be resolved with;
- a Dismissal,
- an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (commonly referred to as “ACD” or “ACOD”),
- a Marihuana Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (abbreviated as “MACD”),
- A violation (for example Disorderly Conduct Violation PL 240.20, or Harassment Violation PL 240.26),
- A misdemeanor conviction, AND
- A felony conviction.
Which Criminal Cases Can Be Sealed?
Under New York Law, the following cases can be sealed:
- All cases resulting in the dismissal,
- Cases resolved with Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal or Marihuana Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal,
- Misdemeanors (in certain circumstances),
- Class D and class E felonies (in certain circumstances).
How to Seal a Criminal Case in New York?
What you need to do to seal your case depends on how your case was resolved.
If a case (regardless of the severity) has been dismissed, then you don’t need to do anything to seal a criminal case. After a dismissal, the case should be automatically sealed and taken your record.
Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal or Marihuana Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal
If you have received an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal pursuant to Penal Law Section 170.55, your case should be automatically dismissed and sealed after six months of you accepting the ACD. The exception is that if you have received an Adjournment in Contemplation of a Dismissal for a family offense, then the case will be dismissed and sealed after 1 year. The sealing is automatic for both ACDs and Family ACDs at the end of the 6 month or 12 month period.
Additionally, Adjournments in Contemplation of Dismissal for Marihuana Offenses pursuant to New York Penal Law Section 170.56, automatically get dismissed and sealed at the expiration of a 12 month adjudication period. Thus, for these adjudications, you do not need to do anything to seal a criminal case.
Not all violations are eligible for sealing. If your case resolved itself with a violation that is eligible for sealing, the matter should be sealed on its own. The timing of the sealing depends on the sentence received for the violation. If the sentence was time served, then the matter will be dismissed and sealed after 1 year of being sentenced. However, if you received a conditional discharge, your case will be sealed 12 months after the expiration the conditional discharge. You do not need to do anything to seal your violation matter.
Examples of Common Violations That Are Eligible for Sealing:
- PL 100.00 – Criminal Solicitation (5th Degree)
- PL 140.05 – Trepass
- PL 145.30 – Unlawfully Posting Advertisements
- PL 215.58 – Failing to Respond to Appearance Ticket
- PL 240.20 – Disorderly Conduct
- PL 265.06 – Unlawful Possession of a Weapon Upon School Grounds
- PL 240.26 – Harassment, (2nd Degree)
- PL 240.35 – Loitering
- PL 240.40 – Appearance in Public Under Influence of Narcotics or Drug other than Alcohol
- PL 245.01 – Exposure of a Person
- PL 245.02 – Promoting Exposure of a Person
- PL 245.05 – Offensive Exhibition
- VTL 509 – “Violations” (general infractions)
- VTL 511-a – Facilitating unlicensed operation (3rd De
Eligible Misdemeanors and Felonies
Under New York’s new sealing law, Criminal Procedure Law Section 160.59, certain misdemeanors and felonies are eligible to be sealed. Generally speaking, these are the requirements for sealing under New York’s sealing law:
- No convictions or pending cases for at least 10 years prior to your application; AND
- Have two or less convictions on your criminal record. You can apply to seal up to two misdemeanors or a misdemeanor and a felony; AND
- Your offenses must be eligible for sealing – sex offenses, violent felonies and serious felonies are not eligible for sealing.
In order to seal an eligible misdemeanor or felony, a motion must be made to the sentencing judge. If the judge grants the sealing motion, you will need to fill out a Request to Seal Form.
What Do I Do if My Case Isn’t Sealed But It Should Be?
First, you need to confirm whether your case is sealed on your rap sheet. You can do that by ordering a copy of your rap sheet from Division of Criminal Justice Services.
Second, you need to obtain a certificate of disposition from the Court clerk where your case was pending to confirm how your case was resolved. The certificate of disposition needs to bear the raised seal of the court clerk.
Third, you will need to fill out a seal verification request form, which should be mailed to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.
Contact Top Rated Attorneys for Help With Sealing Your Criminal Case
If you need help with sealing your criminal case, we can help. We have successfully sealed a number of cases for our clients. Review our client testimonials and contact us to schedule your consultation.