Criminal defendants in New York never got a second chance for many years. A criminal conviction was a permanent addition to your permanent record. Things are different today, at least to an extent. After a substantial waiting period, most former defendants are eligible for help with expungement through record sealing.

In a nutshell, expungement deletes all law enforcement and judicial records relating to a particular offense. It’s like it never happened. Sealing preserves the records but hides them from public view. If employers, landlords, or pretty much anyone else inquires about prior criminal convictions, defendants with sealed records can legally check the “none” box. Only law enforcement agencies, courts, and employers who require workers to carry firearms can view sealed records.

Record sealing is just one of the options available to a Rochester expungement attorney. Criminal convictions weigh people down in many ways. If you have a stain on your permanent record or are afraid of getting one, you owe it to yourself and your family to thoroughly investigate all possible options, including getting an attorney’s help. 

Pre-Judgment Expunction

Frequently, the best way to handle any problem is to take the bull by the horns. That’s usually true in this context. Proactive pre-judgment expunction eliminates the need for more complex post-judgment options.

Monroe County has an extensive pretrial diversion program. As the name implies, the ATI (Alternatives to Incarceration) initiative aims to keep defendants out of jail and, if possible, off the probation rolls. In general, ATI programs stress rehabilitation and treatment instead of retribution and punishment.

Even some DUI offenders, most nonviolent offenders are eligible for standard pretrial diversion. Program requirements vary in different courts. Generally, the defendant has about six months to perform community service, pay restitution, and complete self-improvement courses. If the defendant jumps through all the hoops, prosecutors often dismiss the case.

On a related note, alcohol and drug treatment is an ATI option in many DUI and drug possession cases in Monroe County.

Prosecutors are especially willing to offer pretrial diversion if a defense is available. ATI disposition eliminates the conviction record, but the arrest record remains. However, most people know there is a big difference between an arrest and conviction. So, they only care about conviction records.

Post-Judgement Expunction

Most nonviolent and non-sexual offenders are eligible for statutory record sealing. The specific requirements are:

  • The 10-year waiting period has elapsed,
  • No new convictions during that period,
  • No currently pending cases,
  • Fewer than two convictions on your record, only one of which can be a felony, and
  • No more than one prior record sealing.

The judge will dismiss the application out of hand if the defendant doesn’t meet all these qualifications or other technical errors on the petition. There are no exceptions. At a subsequent hearing, the judge must consider several factors before granting the petition, such as:

  • Effect on rehabilitation and re-entry into society,
  • Any statements made by the alleged victim,
  • Impact of the petition on public confidence in the justice system,
  • Independent rehabilitation efforts (e.g., getting a job or finishing school),
  • The severity of the offense,
  • Any extenuating circumstances, and
  • Amount of time that has elapsed since the conviction.

The prosecutor’s agreement, or lack thereof, is often crucial in these matters. If the state endorses the petition or does not oppose it, a Rochester expungement attorney can usually convince the judge to grant it.

Executive Pardons

Most recent Presidents granted about 10 percent of the pardon applications they received. So, although the odds of success are slim, they are a lot better than winning the lotto. A pardon is usually like an expungement. An executive pardon from the governor (state offense) or the president (federal offense) essentially destroys all relevant records.

Furthermore, executive pardons have no limits or eligibility requirements. Anyone can request one at any time.

Timing, presentation, and a hook are often the keys to success in this area. Most governors are more likely to issue pardons as their terms expire, and they would not face much backlash. As for presentation, a Rochester expungement lawyer usually needs to direct the petition to a chief of staff or someone sure to read and forward it. The governor is more likely to grant the request if it jives with the person’s political agenda. For example, Barack Obama pardoned thousands of people sentenced under harsh 1980s and 1990s drug laws.1

Our Experienced Law Office Will Help You With Expungement

A brush with the law does not always stain your permanent record. For a free consultation with an experienced Rochester expungement lawyer, contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi. Convenient payment plans are available.



The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter.

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