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Are Criminal Records Public In New York?

Under New York’s Freedom of Information Law, criminal records are public records. Thus, members of the general public can view and request criminal records except those records sealed by court order or state statutes. As part of the Office of Court Administration’s Criminal History Search Program, business entities may also perform criminal background checks. The results of the criminal history search are not certified.

Individuals may request personal records review to obtain their criminal records or confirm the existence of criminal history. This process requires requestors to submit fingerprints, a copy of a valid ID, and a means of payment for the relevant processing fee.

What Is Included In A Criminal Record New York?

When arrests occur, or when a person is convicted or tried for an offense, records of these events are kept in the person’s criminal history record. Official records of arrests, charges, and convictions are together known as a rap sheet. RAP is an acronym for Records of Arrest and Prosecution. Some expunged records do not appear on rap sheets; however, sealed and suppressed files may appear on rap sheets. In New York, the person named on the sheet can access their rap sheets using their fingerprints.

Records of criminal history may contain:

  • Arrest or charge information
  • Certificate of relief
  • Wanted information
  • Missing person information
  • Court and incarceration information
  • Job or license information
  • Identification information, such as
    • name,
    • date of birth,
    • mugshot,
    • address,
    • gender,
    • ethnicity,
    • skin tone,
    • fingerprints,
    • social security number,
    • New York State identification number,
    • FBI identification and file number.

Sealed or suppressed records, such as dismissed cases, youthful offenses, dismissed charges, violations, infractions, and other sealed convictions, may also appear on a personal file of criminal history, which can only be accessed by the person named on the record. Other information to be found on the rap sheet include the dates of arrests, the nature of each crime, and the date a record was sealed.

How To Look Up My Criminal History Record In New York?

The New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) is the central repository for criminal history in the state. Through the Criminal History Search program, members of the public can lookup criminal history records at a fee. Copies provided in this search are not official and cannot be used in any legal or official capacity. Note, expunged and sealed records do not appear in criminal history searches.

To request personal criminal history in New York, a person may request a Personal Record Review. If the applicant does not have a criminal history record, a “no record” will be sent in response to the request. Two types of Personal Record Reviews may be requested in New York: suppressed and unsuppressed.

Unsuppressed criminal record reviews contain a person’s entire criminal record history. This review details dismissed charges and cases, eligible convictions of violations and infractions, and youthful offenses. Other information in this review includes; sentences granted by the court, eligible convictions of substance abuse and related crimes, and individual charges dismissed by the court (if the case was dismissed on or after November 1, 1991).

Suppressed criminal record reviews do not include sealed or suppressed information. When making personal record reviews, applicants must indicate the type of report being requested. Persons who require all their suppressed and unsuppressed review records must make two separate requests.

In New York, to request a Personal Record Review, applicants must schedule an appointment to roll fingerprints online or by calling 1–887–472–6915. When requesting a suppressed record, the code 15464Z must be provided at the point of request, while for unsuppressed records, it is 15465F. A form of identification must be provided at the fingerprinting appointment. Minors between the ages of 11 and 17 who do not have any acceptable form of identification may fill a New York Photo ID Waiver for Minors form. Children younger than 11 cannot have their fingerprints taken for a Personal Records Review request.

A payment fee of $13.50 is required and can be paid online with credit cards, or by checks and money orders. After the request for a Personal Records Review is submitted, the application will be processed, and a response will be sent within 7 to 10 business days. Responses cannot be picked up at the DCJS office, and cannot be released to third parties. A person may also not request another person’s criminal history record.

Applicants who live outside New York may download an FBI FD–258 Fingerprint Card and contact a local law enforcement agency to have fingerprints rolled on the card. Afterward, the applicant may enroll online for a card scan submission, which costs $13.50 to process. During the enrolment process, the relevant code (15464Z or 15465F) must be provided. After enrolment is completed, a confirmation page will be received, which must be printed and mailed to:

New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services
Record Review Unit
4 Tower Place
Albany, NY 12203–3764

Requests mailed from outside New York will be reviewed and processed within 30 business days. More information about making requests for Personal Record Reviews online can be found on the information page provided by the DCJS. For further inquiries, contact the Record Review Unit of the DCJS by email at or by phone at (518) 457–9847, (518) 485–7675.

How Can I Get My Criminal Records For Free In New York?

Applicants who cannot afford the processing fees for Personal Records Review requests may apply for a waiver. Waivers are only granted to eligible applicants, which includes persons:

  • Without an income
  • Receiving public assistance
  • With income lower for household size or area of residence

Proof of financial status and other relevant information may be required before approval for a waiver. For further inquiry about getting an exemption, contact the DCJS by email at or by phone at (518) 457–9847, or (518) 485–7675.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved; this includes information such as the city, county, or state where the person resides in or where they were accused.

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party websites may vary.

How To Search Criminal Records Online In New York?

An informal history of criminal records is kept by the New York State Office of Court Administration (OCA) and made available to the public through the Criminal Records History Search (CRHS). CRHS requests can be made online via Online Direct Access. The search is available at all times for members of the public at a fee of $95.

Exact matches of the name and date of birth on the record must be provided for the search. Results produced by the search are public records about open or pending criminal cases in City/Town, Village, and County/Supreme courts statewide. CRHS results do not include Federal, Family, or Civil Court cases.

Searches with no results will be returned immediately. Other results are verified, reviewed, and sent to requestors the following business day. The CRHS does not disclose sealed records, non-criminal offenses such as infractions and violations, and cases with no final disposition. Other exceptions to the CRHS are provided in the Online Direct Access introductory page.

Following New York State’s Misdemeanor Redemption Policy, the CRHS does not report a criminal history for persons whose only offense was a misdemeanor offense committed more than ten years before the initiation of the search request. The policy does not apply to some vehicle traffic offenses, sexual offenses, official misconduct, and defrauding the government.

How To Get Criminal Records Expunged In New York?

In New York, it is generally impossible to expunge criminal records. Expungement means a total deletion or erasure of a criminal record, and this is not provided for by the New York State statutes. Only certain marijuana misdemeanors can be expunged. This expunction means the offenses will be treated as though they never happened. The charges will not show up on the offender’s criminal history record; it will not cause any civil rights disability.

For persons charged with misdemeanor marijuana offenses under the old law before August 28, 2019, such as:

  • Possession of marijuana in the fifth degree, and
  • Unlawful possession of marijuana

records of these charges are automatically expunged. Persons charged under the new law, effective from August 28, 2019, of:

  • Unlawful possession of marijuana in the first degree and
  • Unlawful possession of marijuana in the second degree

will also automatically have records of the charges expunged. The DCJS, the court system, district attorneys, and other law enforcement agencies will be notified of the expungement.

The process of expunging these records may take up to one year. In the year before expungement is complete, the above-listed marijuana offenses will not show up in the offender’s criminal history record. However, if the convicted person applies to get a gun license or applies for a job as a police officer, the records will be seen by officials.

Other marijuana crimes apart from the ones listed above are not eligible to be expunged; however, they may be eligible to be sealed. Generally, under certain conditions, criminal records may be sealed in New York.

How To Get Criminal Records Sealed In New York?

In New York, some criminal records are eligible to be sealed. Sealed records are not erased or destroyed, but become inaccessible to the public. Only available to persons named on the record and some authorized agencies are allowed access to sealed criminal history.

Some criminal records are automatically sealed or closed in New York. Examples of such records are:

  • Records of cases where the defendant got a good result: Good result means that the defendant got a favorable disposition, that is, an acquittal, dismissal, decline to file accusatory instrument, decline prosecution, or an order vacating a judgment.
  • Records of crimes committed by children and youthful offenders: In New York, children can be brought to court from the age of 7 if they are charged with a crime. Juvenile delinquents and youthful offenders do not have permanent criminal records.

Note, to be granted Youthful Offenders status, the youth must be at least 14 and under 19 at the time the offense is committed. The youth must also have no prior felony convictions and must not have been treated as a youthful offender before. If the youth is accused of a violent crime, Youthful Offender status may not be granted by the judge. Youthful offender records are automatically sealed.

  • Records of violations and traffic infractions: all traffic violations are sealed except for:
    • Loitering to engage in prostitution
    • Driving while ability is impaired (DWI)

While police, prosecutor, and DCJS records are sealed for violations, court records or files are not sealed. Therefore records of sealed violations and infractions will not appear in Criminal History Record Searches but will show up under court records searches. Similarly, records of violation for which a person is sentenced to a year conditional discharge are only sealed after the year.

Some drug-related felonies and misdemeanors are eligible for conditional sealing under the Rockefeller Drug Law Reform. To qualify, applicants must have:

  • No other pending charges against them
  • Successfully completed a drug treatment program recognized by the court
  • Completed any other outstanding sentences apart from the drug treatment

Eligible persons with drug-related records must file a motion for sealing with the court. If the motion is granted, the records will be conditionally sealed. This conditionality means that the records will be unsealed if the person is arrested for another felony or misdemeanor.

Some other misdemeanors and felonies are eligible for sealing under certain conditions:

  • The convicted person must have been charged with no other crimes in the ten years since their last conviction or release from sentencing.
  • There must be no more than two misdemeanor convictions or one felony and one misdemeanor convictions on the person’s record.
  • There must be no pending criminal cases or convictions against the person.

To apply to have records of eligible criminal offenses sealed, applicants must follow this procedure:

  • Request a Certificate of Disposition from the court
  • Complete a Notice of Motion and Affidavit in Support, otherwise known as a Sealing Application and sign it in the presence of a notary public.
  • Attach proof of rehabilitation to the application
  • Send the application by hand or mail to the District Attorney’s office
  • Fill an Affidavit of Service and sign it in the presence of a notary public
  • Make a copy of all the forms and applications for record-keeping
  • File the original applications and forms with the court

There are no fees required for the filing of a sealing application. The application must be filed in the court where the most severe conviction on the applicant’s record was entered. If the sealing application is approved, the applicant will be sent a Seal Order that is signed by the court. To confirm that a record is sealed, applicants may mail a completed Request for Seal Verification form along with a copy of the Seal order to the DCJS.

If the record of a person’s conviction is not eligible for sealing, such a person may get relief from the collateral consequences of their convictions by applying for a Certificate of Good Conduct or a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities.

Who Can See My Sealed Criminal Record In New York?

When a record is sealed, it can only be seen or accessed by authorized persons. In New York, persons authorized to access a sealed record include:

  • The individual named on the record but, valid identification must be provided to access the file.
  • Persons authorized by the person named on the record; however, valid identification and proof of authorization must also be presented for access to be granted.
  • The parole officer, where the individual named on the record, is arrested while on parole or probation.
  • An employer, if the individual named on the record applies for a job where the person will carry or operate a gun.
  • A prosecutor, if the individual named on the record moves a motion to have a marijuana charge adjourned (ACD)
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