If My Criminal Case Was Dismissed Can the Record be Expunged and Fingerprints Removed: Purging Your Arrest Record in NY

My case was dismissed in New York criminal court. Does that mean the record is expunged? I received an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD), is that also considered an actual dismissal? What happens to my criminal record? What about my fingerprints? Even though I was charged with a crime, how do I get my record wiped clean and my fingerprints out of the system and destroyed?

The above questions are all reasonable questions that are often asked to New York criminal lawyers, but not always answered in the most simple way. In fact, there are multiple answers to these questions and issues. Whether you were initially charged with and arrested for a felony Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a misdemeanor Assault in the Third Degree, issued a Desk Appearance Ticket in Manhattan or you were indicted in Brooklyn, there really is no engagement in New York State. That’s correct. Other states may have a process to expunge criminal convictions, but New York is not one of them. There is, however, a means by which you – a person accused of a crime and later exonerated, found not guilty, acquitted or merely the rightful recipient of a dismissal – can clean up the records of your arrest including those related to fingerprints so that your personal and professional exposure of a criminal past does not exist.

Whether you want to use the terms “destruction” or “destroy” is of little consequence. At bottom, if your criminal arrest and case resolved itself in a favorable manner resulting in a complete sealing or conditional sealing, then you may want to take the next step and have your criminal attorney contact Albany (no, there is no person named “Albany”. but the location of the agency that handles these types of requests). Cases that seal in some capacity or in totality, relatively speaking, are done so pursuant to CPL 160.50, 160.55, and conditionally sealed pursuant to 160.58. For example, you are arrested and given an appearance ticket for PL 155.25 or PL 165.40 due to allegations involving shoplifting in New York City or you were arrested and charged with PL 220.03 for drug possession in Westchester County. After going to court in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx (for that matter it can be a local court in Westchester or Rockland County), you ultimately receive an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal or ACD. This ACD is a six month adjournment where you are not re-arrested and the case is dismissed and sealed pursuant to CPL 170.55. This disposition triggers sealing pursuant to CPL 160.50. Upon the sealing, only limited entities would have access to the record of arrest and even then the “rap sheet” likely would reflect a dismissal and resolution in your favor. No facts or evidence is shared.

Despite this favorable resolution or an outright dismissal, however, you, the accused who has since been vindicated or who’s criminal defense lawyer knocked the case down to a non-criminal resolution, will want to have the records destroyed. The thought of having your fingerprints or mugshot exposed or shared through law enforcement agencies and the FBI is far from closure. The answer to this very real problem? Ask your counsel or attorney to contact the right agency to not only have your mugshot and fingerprints destroyed, but have the arrest event purged from the files of the FBI.

To learn more about this process, how the criminal lawyers at Saland Law PC can assist you, and the steps by which your record can be cleaned, contact our criminal defense attorneys. Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense firm founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors. Saland Law PC represents clients in criminal cases throughout the New York City area.

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