New York allows criminal records to be sealed under the circumstances
described below. When your record is sealed, it is hidden from public
view, though some government agencies may still have access to it. In
most cases, after your record is sealed, you may say that you were not
arrested or convicted of a crime.
Your arrest record can be sealed if the case was terminated in your favor -- for example, if the charges were dismissed, dropped, vacated, or your conviction was set aside. (New York Criminal Procedure Law § 160.50.)
Noncriminal offenses. Convictions for most noncriminal offenses -- such as traffic infractions or disorderly conduct violations -- can be sealed. (New York Criminal Procedure Law § 160.55.)
Drug convictions. Records for many, but not all, drug crimes can be sealed if you successfully complete an approved treatment program. Oddly, the statute does not apply to defendants who have successfully completed a drug diversion mandate and have had their cases dismissed. This anomaly has been criticized and arguably should be remedied by the legislature. (New York Criminal Procedure Law § § 160.58, 160.50; People v Batista, 2016 NY Slip Op 26306.)
Other misdemeanor or felony convictions. Except for the drug convictions mentioned above, misdemeanor or felony convictions cannot be expunged or sealed.
DNA records. If your conviction was reversed or vacated, or if you were pardoned, any related DNA evidence may be expunged from the state DNA database. (New York Executive Law § 995-c.)
Cleaning up your criminal history can be complicated. If you are not sure whether your record qualifies for sealing in New York -- or for advice about your personal situation -- you should contact a qualified criminal law attorney. A good lawyer can guide you each step of the way.