The State of New York Does Not Allow for the Expungement of Criminal Records

Interviewer: If someone has a theft charge on the record, would they be able to get it expunged?

Martin Kane: Yes. In New York, unlike a lot of other places, we do not have any process — except in certain drug situations where it’s just been enacted — but overall New York has no provision whatsoever to expunge a criminal record. If you’ve been convicted of a crime, then your fingerprint record is going to stay there forever. So it’s extremely important that this thing be done right from the beginning with an experienced lawyer. In most shoplifting cases, for instance, it’s entirely possible to not only get the fingerprints removed, but have the entire record sealed so that nobody — and that means anybody — can ever see it. And it may not seem that important at the moment, but 10 years from now, if you have a criminal record and then you go calling me or any other lawyer and saying, ‘Look. I had this little incident 10 years ago, and I want to get my record cleared — what can you do for me?’ I’m going to say to you, ‘I can’t do anything for you, it’s too late.’ People think that because other states have that process New York has it, and it’s just not true. New York, again to repeat, has no process to expunge a criminal record.

Potential Timeframe Of Resolution For A Theft Case In New York

Interviewer: How long, potentially, can a theft case last?

Martin Kane: If you have minor cases — particularly shoplifting cases — we can generally get them done very quickly, within one or two court appearances. What you also have to watch out for is a lot of times in minor cases; we can arrange to have a case ultimately sealed. And in certain circumstances, when it’s necessary, we can arrange to have it sealed very, very quickly. Again, it’s something only an experienced lawyer is going to know and understand. And it can’t be done in all cases, but when there’s a good reason, we can get a case dismissed and sealed very, very quickly, if the circumstances warrant it.

Diversionary Programs For First-Time Theft Offenders In New York

Interviewer: Are there any sorts of programs or diversionary programs available for a first-time offender?

Martin Kane: The only thing that’s generally used for a diversionary program in theft cases is in shoplifting cases, where there’s a program called ‘stop-lift’ which is administered by the district attorney’s office. Oftentimes people will be sent there to have a session, which will cost them about $120, on the evils of shoplifting. The only other thing that is generally used is community service in lieu of jail or probation. Many people wind up doing an amount of community service, which obviously we try to keep to the minimum possible.

Common Scenarios Associated With Theft Crimes In New York

Interviewer: Is there a common scenario or story that you frequently hear about when it comes to someone’s theft charge?

Martin Kane: The theft charge is so broad and covers so wide a range, you know, a variation of cases, that it’s difficult to answer. Most theft cases — and again that certainly applies to shoplifting, but also other types of theft cases — people come in and they’re really ashamed of what they did, assuming that they actually did do it. As I’m sure you know that there are people who get accused of things who didn’t do anything wrong. But for the most part when people have committed a theft, they feel really bad about themselves. And they really shouldn’t; as I said before, people make mistakes, and it’s just usually a yielding to temptation, so the goal is to get it put behind them with as few problems as possible. But probably more in theft cases, you see people just beating up on themselves, I think unnecessarily.

Contact The Law Office of Martin D. Kane at (718) 793-5700 to find out more about our legal services.

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