You’ve taken responsibility and paid your dues. It now begs the question. Can my misdemeanor conviction be sealed? Can my drug arrest be expunged? Is there a statute in New York to clear my criminal record? Its been years, even decades, since my arrest, conviction and sentencing for Seventh Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in New York. How do I now get a conviction for New York Penal Law 220.03 vacated, cleaned, washed away, expunged, sealed or any other relief to keep my past from destroying my future? As you can discuss with your criminal defense attorney and conviction sealing lawyer, whether you were convicted by a plea of guilty or by a jury of your peers, simple possession of cocaine, crack-cocaine, heroin, or any other controlled substance can be sealed from your record with a motion to your sentencing court in accordance with New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59.
The types of drugs that routinely flow through New York City and throughout other New York municipalities range from unlawfully possessed prescription drugs such as Oxy and Adderall to the more common cocaine, heroin, MDAM, Ecstasy and Molly. The law is generally clear and a criminal defense attorney you need not when determining what controlled substances you can (or cannot) possess. For that matter, you neither need a drug lawyer nor your mother to advise you that you can’t have any of these narcotics barring a prescription (or at all) unless your goal is trying to violate a New York drug crime.
You may enjoy getting hopped up, rolling, taking a bump or just getting annihilated and, by all means, that is your decision. It is not my job, as a criminal lawyer, to be your father and lecture you on the ills of drug use and abuse. Its my job to help you when you call me panicked after your arrest. That said, before doing so, just hear me out. Know that there are very real consequences to your actions well beyond those that may land you in handcuffs and before a judge.
Brief pseudo-lecture aside, the purpose of this blog entry is not to address the direct and collateral consequences to drug use and arrests in New York, but to make it clear how low the threshold is for prosecutors to proceed on criminal charges when you are accused of violating New York Penal Law 220.03, Seventh Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance. In fact, as this blog will make clear, neither Assistant District Attorneys nor police officers need to actually test the drug in any capacity to draft a legally sufficient complaint charging you with this drug crime. What does this mean to you? The law can take you right past Go and directly to Jail in the game of Monopoly that has unfortunately become your life.
The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has facial recognition technology that is both sophisticated and widely utilized. DMV Investigators, somewhat similar to an NYPD Detective, use face recognition technology in conjunction with old fashion investigatory skills to review applications for New York State Drivers Licenses to determine whether an applicant has previously applied for and received a drivers license under a fake name or alias. Further, the DMV investigators look to see whether an applicant has old and outstanding summonses or suspensions on his or her license. So, what is it that you expose yourself to when making certain misrepresentations at the DMV? What felony and misdemeanor crimes are you exposed to and what should you discuss with your criminal defense attorney to navigate an arrest should it occur?
What is the benefit of sealing my criminal record? Why would I want to expunge an old arrest? Even if my criminal case is sealed, can employers still see my case, the evidence or accusations? All reasonable questions to ask your criminal defense attorney, or more appropriately your conviction sealing lawyer, the answer to these questions start with the purpose behind New York State’s passage of Criminal Procedure Law 160.59. NY CPL 160.59, the New York sealing statute, allows for the “public removal” or in some cases limited access to certain past criminal convictions. As addressed in other blog entries and in substantive detail on Crotty Saland PC’s New York Sealing Law Information Page, the goal of NY CPL 160.59 is to allow individuals who have led law abiding lives for more than ten years, have eligible non-sex offense and other convictions, and can provide a reason for a court to consider a sealing motion, to file for “expungement” of the criminal case(s). The caveat to all of this is that the law limits your eligibility to a criminal past involving no more than two convictions of which only one can be a felony and even if the court agreed with your sealing attorney’s application, no judge can actually expunge your criminal record. That’s right. While you may have your criminal record sealed and blocked from public view, law enforcement will have the ability to access your criminal history in perpetuity.
This all begs the question that you will no doubt vet with your NY CPL 160.59 sealing attorney. If I seal my criminal record who can see it?
Despite having top training and experience in what is the most stressful of life situations and the respect of his friends, neighbors and nation as a veteran of the armed forces, nothing prepared a recent Crotty Saland PC client for the overwhelming fear and concern that resulted from an arrest at New York’s JFK Airport after he tried to check a lawfully owned firearm. Yes, our client followed the TSA’s guidelines prior to arriving at the airport to fly to Colorado where a new job awaited the following morning. Yes, our client made sure the firearm was stored away in a hard sided and locked cases consistent with the airline’s regulations. No, he was not remotely prepared for what would happen next.
A criminal and violent person our client was not, but instead a regular person, no different than you or me, exercising what he believed was his Second Amendment rights to possess a firearm licensed in another state. Unfortunately, despite his far from nefarious intentions, an arrest by the Port Authority Police Department and prosecution by the Queens County District Attorney’s Office was the last thing our client expected when his biggest concern to date on a flight was whether he should book an isle or window seat or have pretzels or chips with his Coke. Not a commentary on the state of firearm laws, the NRA, or Congress’ plan to allow conceal carry permits to cross state lines, this blog entry addresses how good people can unintentionally run afoul of the law and the efforts necessary to protect their good name, liberty and future.
Nobody likes an answer of “maybe,” but the practical reality to the question of whether a conviction or criminal record for Assault in New York can be sealed is partially yes and partially no. First, with the negative, New York has no provision in its criminal procedure law to expunge your conviction for any degree of Assault. However, there is a remedy for anyone convicted of a non-violent Assault (that’s right, non-violent) to seek a sealing of their criminal conviction from their public criminal record. Doesn’t make sense? Bare with me.
Assuming that you have no more than two misdemeanor convictions or one misdemeanor and one felony, the judge before whom you were sentence has the authority pursuant to New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59 to seal your criminal conviction subject to a few relevant and critical points as to eligibility.
During the day you are a lawyer, work in finance, a licensed real estate broker, or a school teacher. Maybe you’re a stay-at-home mom or you’re just figuring out what the heck you want to do with your life with your BA in History from Generic State University. Reliving your glory days in college pretending the babysitter isn’t at home with your kids or just trying your hardest to ignore the fact that you have a mortgage or rent payment coming up after the encore, what could be better than getting lost in the moment to Phish’s “Fluffhead” and “Harry Hood?” The real question, however, is not what could be better, but what could be worse? The answer? An arrest for Seventh Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, New York Penal Law 220.03.
On its face, going to see Phish certainly could be a release and even a religious experience, but you’re not a reckless college kid anymore (or maybe you are) and you weren’t fooling anyone “hiding” a baggie of cocaine, Molly, MDMA, ecstasy, marijuana or any other drug in your sock. It’s just like telling your parents you only had two beers. You didn’t. They knew that.
Advocating effectively is not as easy as it seems. Understanding the criminal justice system in a practical sense takes experience. Doing your homework on your client’s criminal case to put him or her in the best position to resolve that case favorably takes diligence. The end result, however, can be well worth all the work for both the accused and the criminal defense attorney who secured justice. In fact, for a few recent Crotty Saland PC clients, what were originally nightmarish experiences ended in closed cases, non-criminal dispositions and outright dismissals.
There are few crimes more embarrassing in terms of both arrest and conviction than those related to prostitution. No, nobody says growing up they want to solicit and patronize prostitutes just as young boys and girls don’t aspire to become prostitutes when they grow into women and men. Simply, good people make poor choices or find themselves in situations that leaves them feeling desperate or hopeless. While this blog entry is not meant to serve as a justification nor condemnation of those convicted of New York Penal Law section 230.00 and 230.04 respectively, it simply addresses a very reasonable and pertinent question. Can my conviction for PL 230.00 or my conviction for PL 230.04 be sealed to either the public or private entities? Commencing on October 2017 the answer to both of these questions is a very clear, albeit a time consuming and detailed path, yes. With the passage of New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59, the court that sentenced you upon your conviction to either Prostitution or Third Degree Patronizing a Prostitute now has the authority and discretion to seal, although not expunge, your criminal conviction and case.
New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59 is the mechanism by which a convict (pardon the term), can motion the court of their conviction to have their criminal cases, convictions and record sealed. Explained in greater detail throughout the Sealing and Expungement section of this blog as well as on the New York Sealing Law Information Page at CrottySaland.Com, before your attorney makes a sealing application you must satisfy a litany of factors or elements necessary for consideration. Failure to do so will result in an outright denial and rejection of your sealing motion. Briefly, some of these requirements are that your criminal convictions do not include sex crimes mandating Sex Offender Registration (SORA), violent offenses as defined by law, “Class “A” felonies or more than one felony in a two criminal conviction total allotment. Although there are more factors, this entry will address the final element listed here. What if you have two convictions, a misdemeanor and felony or two misdemeanors, in two different jurisdictions within New York State? Are you required to make to separate applications to both courts? If not, will one court hear both of your motions and which court will do so?