What does it mean to “seal” a conviction?

March 6, 2018

As those of you who follow me have most likely already seen, New York recently began permitting the sealing of certain eligible criminal convictions. So, what does sealing mean and how can it help you?

First of all, sealing is NOT expunging. The sealed conviction will still be a part of your criminal history; it does not get removed from your record. But it will not be disclosed or visible to most employers or agencies. More importantly, most employers are prohibited from even asking about the sealed conviction or considering it in any employment decisions. According to the NYS Division of Human Rights website, “you cannot be asked about it in any form application or otherwise, or discriminated against on, those grounds in connection with employment, licensing, or the provision of credit or insurance.”

Keep in mind, however, that because the conviction is still a part of your record, certain government and licensing agencies may (and will) still be able to see it. Such entities include:

  • You (or someone you choose), you request a copy of your criminal history yourself;
  • Agencies carrying out law enforcement duties (including district attorneys’ offices, probation departments, and child protective services) – that means that should you be arrested in the future, the DA’s office will see and consider the sealed conviction and it can be considered a predicate or element of an offense;
  • Law enforcement/police agencies if you are applying for a job as a police or peace officer;
  • If you apply for a gun license, the agencies who review your application;
  • The FBI when it runs a background check if you attempt to purchase or possess a gun.


While sealing does not excuse or even forgive a prior conviction, it can provide a much-needed opportunity to move past prior indiscretions or mistakes, and work toward a better life for many people who have paid their debt for their crimes.

If you would like to know more about the sealing process or to learn if you’re eligible to apply to seal a conviction, call me, Todd Carpenter of Carpenter Law PLLC, at (845) 493-1002 or email me atTodd@CarpenterLawNY.com.