At Miller and Miller, we frequently receive requests for help from people who have been previously convicted of a criminal act and are now seeking
to have their criminal record either expunged or sealed. Unfortunately, as a matter of official New York State policy, New
York State lacks any mechanism for the expungement of a criminal record. Further, New York State’s sealing provisions
are, in general, only available to persons who have successfully defended themselves in a criminal prosecution. Accordingly,
as opposed to many other states, in New York State there is, at present time, no simple way for a person to "get rid
of" or otherwise "hide" or "seal" a criminal conviction from public view. Even if the conviction
happened many years ago and the person has since lived an exemplary life, New York State does not allow for the expungement
or sealing of the criminal record.
We view this result as being unfortunate and bad public policy.
Our view is that people should get second chances at life and that rehabilitation should be promoted. If a person has a history
of good conduct following a criminal conviction, they should be able to move on with their life and be a productive member
of society. If you agree with our position, we would strongly encourage you to contact your state representative and to seek appropriate legislative reform.
Are there no options available to a person who has
been convicted of a crime? While New York State does not have expungement or sealing, New York State does provide the following
tools or mechanisms to a person seeking relief from a criminal conviction:
- certificate of
relief from civil disability
- "440" motion.
In our opinion, however, these options are of limited viability. A governor’s pardon and a "440"
motion are by design difficult devices to utilize with limited possibilities for a successful outcome. While, on the other
hand, a certificate of relief from civil disability is substantially easier to obtain it is of limited usefulness. If you
are considering using any of these devices to obtain relief from your criminal conviction, we would strongly encourage you
to contact the Law Offices of Miller and Miller so we can discuss the options available to you.