WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SEALING AND EXPUNGEMENT IN NEW YORK?
"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
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:
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.