Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sealing Criminal Records in Buffalo Area Courts under CPL 160.50 and 160.55

J John Sebastian

Buffalo City Court follow the laws set forth in the New York  Criminal Procedure law in regards  to the sealing of records.  Despite the confusion and abundant  misinformation on the topic, it is a critical area of New York Criminal  Law. After all the worst consequence to a  criminal charge is usually  not jail, a fine or community service, but the criminal record  that will usually  result.

The following information reflects my  understanding of what happens to charges when they are disposed of in  New York State either by conviction , verdict or pea or by  dismissal, (acquittal or dismissal, ACD)  

"Expungement" means that the record is  actually taken out of the system.   "Sealing" means that the record  exists, but that it is hidden from public view.   When a record is  sealed at the Court level it means that the Court's file is stored at the  Particular Courthouse where the sealing was ordered, and that there is  also an electronic record there of the case, but neither the actual file  nor the computer record is available to the general public.
Under New York CPL 160.50, there is a combination of sealing and expungement   with regards to a defendant's criminal criminal record. The fingerprints, photographs and  arrest records are supposed to be destroyed (expunged) at the police  level, but the Court Records are neither destroyed nor returned,  Instead, under CPL 160.50 they are sealed at the Court level and are  also sealed in Albany, New York.  But even Albany maintains a  special  electronic file of the arrest which is not disclosed except under very special circumstances.
What Records can be sealed in New York?
In New York State, a record of a  criminal conviction, of  any misdemeanor or felony except a  youthful offender adjudication, is never sealed and is  considered a  public record available to anyone through the OCA website for a $55 fee.  Even  if the person had the charge reduced from a felony  to a misdemeanor or only received probation.  There are no exceptions to  this general  rule.
In New York, the only records that get sealed are complete dismissals including:
ACD's   other forms of dismissal and Acquittals, these get the full seal  treatment of CPL 160.50.  Also, charges that are reduced  from a misdemeanor or felony to a violation or infraction get the  partial seal treatment of CPL 160.55.   j john sebastian attorney The Law Office of J. John Sebastian

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