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Expungement vs. Record Sealing: Which One Applies to Your Drug Charge?

Serving Families Throughout Garden City
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There are nearly 55,000 drug arrests in New York City each year, and 70 percent of those arrests ultimately result in a conviction. Being convicted of a drug crime can affect a person’s life in numerous ways. Convictions show on background checks which are run through credit card companies, potential employers, or rental companies. Many individuals who have been convicted of a crime will look into whether their charges can be expunged or if the record of their charges can be sealed.

New York has some of the toughest laws in terms of drug use and drug charges. The state also follows strict rules about which charges can be expunged and which can be sealed. Drug crimes can only be record sealed in the state, regardless of whether the crime was possession, manufacturing, or distribution.

Differences Between Expungement and Record Sealing

While expungement and record sealing are similar in terms of the law, they apply to different charges and ultimately do different things for an individual’s record, largely depending on state law. In New York, expungement of a charge means that the charge is wiped from the person’s record. There will be no evidence that the charge ever exists if a background check of the person is performed. When a record is sealed, typical background checks won’t show the charge, however, the charge still technically “exists” in both a legally and physically sense. It can still show on certain checks, such as if the person is applying for a gun license or is applying to be in the military or police force.

New York’s Record Sealing Law

A New York law that became effective in October 2017 allows convicted individuals to seal the records of up to two misdemeanor convictions or one misdemeanor and one felony conviction, only provided that the offenses are not violent offenses, sex offenses, or class A felonies (list of class A felonies can be viewed here). Drug offenses that are eligible to be sealed include:

  • Sale of a controlled substance
  • Use of drug paraphernalia
  • Possession or sale of marijuana
  • Possession of a controlled substance

Drug charges in New York carry heavy penalties and are considered a very serious offense. Hiring an experienced drug crime attorney will help an individual use every possible defense and protect their rights in a court of law. They can also help guide an individual who has been convicted of a drug crime through the record sealing process.

Contact our firm at (888) 966-8480 to discuss your drug crime case and possible defenses.

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