Yes, records for minors can be sealed in New York City. The relevant statute you need to know is CPL 720.35.
Legal language can be hard to decipher, so this article reviews what you need to know, who this law applies to and when, and how this can help a minor facing criminal charges.
The law defines a minor as a “youthful offender” only if the person is charged with committing a crime when they were between 16 and 19 years old.
A person over 18 years old is no longer a minor. However, the youthful offender term is still used for them in this situation.
Being classified as a youthful offender is a good status to have if charged, because it gives you some added benefits in the criminal justice system.
Being called a youthful offender means your records are now confidential. This happens automatically during the youthful offender “adjudication” process, which is the formal judgment that happens at sentencing.
Instead of having a criminal conviction on your record, it will be marked as a “non-criminal determination.”
All official records and papers on file are sealed if they are from:
These records include documents like the court transcript, court records, witness testimony, interrogation manuscripts and arrest records. You should know that some courts or police can unseal a criminal record if you commit a new crime or if it is relevant to a case. Read more on this below.
The records will be sealed to most background checks. However, certain people and agencies can still see the record if:
In summary, your school or your child’s school can likely unseal the records. They will also be unsealed if you are involved with new crimes or orders of protection.
Minors in New York have some protection from the law already. Youthful offender extends up to 19 years old and helps prevent some kids from going into their adult lives with criminal records.
You must be eligible for this. A youthful offender must:
If you committed a serious crime or have other past crimes on your record, you can be tried as a minor or as an adult in New York courts.
There is still hope for youths with criminal records. Speak with a criminal defense lawyer about the possible defenses for your case and whether the youthful offender status applies in your situation.
An arrest and conviction can change everything. Fines or time in jail are the immediate concern, but a conviction will also mean a criminal record that can make it harder to find a job and housing for years to come. If you are arrested or learn you are under investigation, the first thing you should do is contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. You can search LawInfo’s legal directory to find a local criminal defense attorney who can protect your rights, lay out your options, and help you determine the best way to proceed with mounting a defense and limiting potential penalties.