What You Need to Know About Expunging Domestic Violence Charges in New York

Getting cases expunged can become confusing, with each state having different guidelines and criteria for the process. Here’s what you need to know about getting domestic violence charges expunged in New York.

New York does not generally allow people’s criminal records to be expunged, especially not for domestic violence cases. Instead, those looking to have their records cleared may have them sealed within certain conditions as outlined in NY Criminal Procedure Law §160.59. Depending on the domestic violence case, those convicted may be able to get their record sealed.

What Does it Mean to Get Records Sealed?

The main difference between getting records expunged and getting them sealed is that expungement would completely clear one’s record and the relevant crimes and convictions would be entirely erased. Sealing one’s record, on the other hand, simply seals all material relevant to the case, such as papers related to arrests, prosecutions, and convictions, from almost all public and private individuals.

Related: Expungement VS. Dismissal

Crimes That Cannot Be Sealed in New York

Because there is no specific domestic violence crime, only crimes that can supplement the domestic violence, determining if one’s domestic violence charge can be sealed is often determined on a case-by-case basis. The following convictions cannot be sealed in New York:

  • Sex offenses as outlined in NY Penal Code 130
  • Sexual performance by a child as outlined in NY Penal Code 263
  • A felony offense as outlined in NY Penal Code 125
  • A violent or class A felony offense as outlined in NY Penal Code 70.02
  • An offense for which sex offender registration is required

For comparison, the list of common domestic acts in New York is as follows:

  • Assault
  • Strangulation
  • Harassment and aggravated harassment
  • Reckless endangerment
  • Strangulation
  • Criminal mischief
  • Sexual abuse
  • Threats
  • Intimidation and menacing
  • Grand larceny
  • Identity theft

Given the ineligible convictions and typical domestic violence acts, a domestic violence case could easily be either eligible or ineligible for sealing depending on the severity or nature of the offense. For example, if the case was especially violent and included assault in the first degree, it would be considered A class B violent felony under NY Penal Code 70.02, and that case would not be able to be sealed. If the case, however, only involved an instance of mild harassment, it would likely be able to be sealed.

Criteria for Getting Records Sealed in New York

If one’s domestic violence crime is eligible to be sealed, there are certain criteria that the individual must fulfill:

  • At least 10 years must have passed between their sentencing or release from prison and their application for sealing to the court
  • They have no pending or current criminal charges
  • They have no recent criminal convictions
  • They have not already obtained the sealing of the maximum number of convictions allowed in New York, 2 sealings
  • They have 2 or fewer convictions on their criminal record

Related: Domestic Battery in New York: Penalties & Possible Defenses

How to Get Records Sealed in New York

The process to get records sealed contains 4 elements in New York.

1. Application Documents

Individuals seeking a sealing must receive an application for sealing from the chief administrator of the courts, which includes:

  • A copy of a certificate of disposition for any offense for which an individual has been committed
  • A sworn statement of the individual stating if they have filed or intend to file an application to seal their record
  • A copy of any other application that has been filed
  • A sworn statement regarding the conviction that the individual is trying to seal
  • A sworn statement of why the court should grant the sealing

2. Submitting the Application

After filling out the application and collecting any supporting documents, the individual must submit the application to the judge that sentenced them. If the judge has retired since the conviction, the individual may submit the application to any other judge who is sitting in the court where they were convicted.

3. Serving the Application to the District Attorney

A copy of the application must be served to the District Attorney of the county where the conviction occurred. The District Attorney then has 45 days to notify the court of any objection to the application.

4. Assignment to the Sentencing Judge

Once the application has been submitted to the court, it will be assigned to a sentencing judge who will determine if the case should be sealed. The sentencing judge will use factors and evidence to come to a decision including but not limited to:

  • The circumstances for which the individual is seeking sealing of their records
  • The circumstances surrounding the individual’s conviction
  • The character of the individual
  • The impact of sealing the individual’s record on public safety
  • If the sentencing judge approves the sealing, the individual’s record or crime will be sealed and available only to a select few.

FAQs about Expunging Domestic Violence Charges in New York

Can I get domestic violence charges expunged in New York?

No; New York rarely allows records to be expunged. Instead, they allow records to be sealed under certain circumstances.

Who can see my records once they are sealed?

The defendant, any state or local agency that is responsible for issuing gun licenses when the defendant has requested a gun license, the criminal justice information services division of the federal bureau, the defendant’s parole officer, and a few more individuals as outlined in NY CPL § 160.59 can access sealed criminal records.

Are there any other ways I can make sure people cannot see my records if I do not qualify to get them sealed?

Individuals who only have one felony conviction or an unlimited number of misdemeanors may apply for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities. This certificate acts to remove certain automatic bars when applying for jobs, such as applying to be a security guard, nurse, or real estate agent.

Contact Us

If you or a loved one would like to learn more about Domestic Violence Charge Expunged New York, get your free consultation with one of our Domestic Violence Attorneys in New York today!