Hello and welcome back to the blog here at DuBois Law. Here on the blog, we like to disseminate available information to the good residents of New York, to keep you informed of your rights. We like to keep the people of WNY educated on their rights so we can navigate the legal system together. Today, let's take some time to talk about criminal record expungement and sealing, their similarities, and their differences.
Before we jump into definitions, let's talk about the nature of criminal records to set some context and background. Criminal records are publicly available information on misdemeanors and felonies that can make it difficult to find employment, housing, licensing, and other areas. Criminal records also include arrests that didn't result in a conviction.
What Is Criminal Record Sealing?
A sealed criminal record makes it so that only certain law enforcement personnel are allowed access to your record. An employee background check won't turn up sealed record results, as they wouldn't have access rights to that information. Certain government agencies may still have access to sealed record information, though.
What Is Criminal Record Expungement?
An expungement wipes the crime off your record entirely, as it had never happened in the first place. All references to the crime are removed, and it's like being given a fresh slate. New York doesn't allow for convictions to be expunged, but certain acquitted cases and dismissed cases may be. Criminal record sealing is available, however.
What Are The Similarities and Differences?
The main similarity between expungement and sealing is to give people the chance to get a new start after their time with the legal system is finished. Not all crimes are eligible, however, so getting in contact with an experienced defense attorney is paramount to ensure your case has the best chance. The reasons for this are that life after having a record can be difficult. Check out this article from NPR with John Legend for a little more on that.
That brings us to the differences between expungement and sealing. Sealing a record means that while it's no longer publicly accessible information, government agencies like the military and firearms licenses, and certain law enforcement personnel. With an expungement, that crime and references to it are wiped.
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