A New York juvenile record can cast a shadow over one’s life well into adulthood. Those who made mistakes in their youth and yearn for a fresh start, or whose children have been in trouble with the law, can file a petition to have the juvenile record sealed. To have a juvenile record sealed, one must first know the eligibility criteria, then follow the necessary procedures.
Eligibility for Sealing Juvenile Records in New York
The process for sealing juvenile records in New York depends on one’s age and how one was adjudicated.
Juvenile Delinquent. Juveniles between the ages of 7 and 16 who are convicted with certain crimes (other than felonies) can be adjudicated as a juvenile delinquent. These records are almost always automatically sealed, although it is still accessible by the criminal justice system (i.e., police and prosecutors). Those whose files were not automatically sealed can file a Sealing Motion with the Family Court after their 16th birthday. If the motion is denied, the person can attempt to file again in one year.
Youthful Offender. Young persons aged 16, 17 or 18 who are tried as adults can be adjudicated as a youthful offender. Like juvenile delinquents, these records should automatically seal, remaining visible only to the justice system and the school in which one is enrolled. Youthful offenders are tried in criminal court. If the record is not sealed, one must follow the same process as adults for sealing criminal records in New York.
Juvenile Offender. Persons aged 16-18 tried for certain felonies can be adjudicated as juvenile offenders. Those convicted cannot have their record sealed.
How to File a Sealing Motion in New York
Anyone looking to seal a juvenile record should speak to an attorney first. An attorney may be able to help one understand why the record wasn’t sealed and whether or not it can be (it usually can). Moreover, an attorney can handle the bulk of the paperwork and ensure the process is done quickly and properly, which will maximize one’s chances of success.
That said, a person can attempt to file the motion on his/her own. Keep in mind that there are numerous pages worth of forms to fill out and multiple copies must be sent to the correct agencies. A single mistake can result in a denial of the motion, requiring one to start all over again.
Those determined to try to seal a juvenile record on their own can follow the steps below.
- Fill out a Certificate of Disposition Request form and submit it to the court clerk.
- Once one receives the Certificate of Disposition, complete the first two pages of the Sealing Application, also known as the Notice of Motion and Affidavit in Support.
- Serve the Notice of Motion and Affidavit in Support on the District Attorney of the county in which the offenses were charged.
- After the District Attorney has been served, complete the third page of the Sealing Application, also called the Affidavit of Service.
- File all pages of the Sealing Application and any supporting documentation with the court.
- To confirm that the change was made, complete the Request for CPL 160.59 Seal Verification Form. Send a copy of the signed court seal order along with the verification form.
Impact of Sealing Juvenile Records
Sealed juvenile records are treated in many respects as if they never occurred. This means a person does not have to disclose the conviction or arrest on most applications, including for jobs, housing, financial aid and more.
The sealing does not mean the record is destroyed forever and there are times when it will be accessible. For example, the court can pull juvenile records in certain circumstances if the person is charged with a crime at a later date. This can be leveraged against one and result in more severe sentencing. In addition, a sealed juvenile record must be disclosed when applying for a job in law enforcement or when enlisting in the military.
Common Questions About Sealing Juvenile Records in New York
Does New York seal felony convictions?
Some felonies are eligible to be sealed in New York, but many are not. This includes:
- Most sex offenses, including those that require sex offender registration;
- Certain “violent crimes,” as defined by Penal Law §70.02;
- Crimes categorized as class “A” felonies;
- Certain other felonies defined in §160.59.
Do juvenile records show up on background checks?
This depends on the what the crime is, the level of background check, and whether or not the juvenile record has been sealed. A sealed juvenile record will not show up in the vast majority of background checks.
Can juvenile arrest records be sealed?
Arrest and court records are usually sealed automatically if the defendant is found not guilty or if the case was dismissed.
Can a juvenile record prevent me from applying from law enforcement?
Even if one’s juvenile record is sealed, a person must disclose the charges and any convictions when applying for a job in law enforcement. Every agency is different, and some will consider applicants with juvenile records, depending on the charges and other factors.
Do I need a lawyer to seal my juvenile record in NY?
While most juvenile records should automatically seal, those who have an unsealed record should consult with an attorney. An attorney is not required to get one’s juvenile record sealed, but hiring an attorney can be the difference maker in whether or not the Sealing Motion is successfully executed and accepted by the court. In addition, an attorney can take a lot of the work off one’s hands and ensure the process is as smooth as possible.
Who Can Help Seal a Juvenile Record in New York?
To determine if your or your child’s juvenile record is, can, or should be sealed, it is important to consult with a lawyer experienced in sealing juvenile records. An attorney will understand one’s eligibility for sealing and help determine the best course of action. A skilled attorney should also be able to handle the process for you and explain the precise effect of sealing one’s juvenile record.
If you or your child would like to have their New York or New Jersey juvenile record sealed, contact the attorneys of the Rosenblum Law Firm. Our skilled criminal defense attorneys have helped many people put their past behind them. Email the Rosenblum Law Firm or call 888-815-3649 today for a free consultation about your case.