Can my Misdemeanor Conviction for Drug Possession be Expunged or Sealed in New York: Understanding CPL 160.59

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.

As straight forward as the New York Penal Law can get, PL 220.03 is violated when you knowingly and unlawfully posses a controlled substance. While you may not remember how much cocaine or heroin you had, for example, its of little consequence assuming it was in violation of the misdemeanor Seventh Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance crime. That, for starters, is the good news. However, in order for your conviction of PL 220.03 to be eligible for sealing there are other mandatory requirements. Even if you satisfy these necessary rules, what does it actually mean for you in a practical sense?

One of the first steps you must take is to answer the following in the affirmative. Do you have no more than two total convictions? Are you completely free from the criminal justice system now without any pending criminal case? Was your conviction for NY PL 220.03 at least ten years ago? Assuming you have met these requirements, in order for you New York sealing attorney to draft a compelling application for sealing, what benefit is there to society and the community to provide you this relief? What have you been doing with your life? Are you still abusing narcotics and controlled substances? Simply, why should the court that you pleaded before now, all these years later, seal your case? Before answering these questions, its imperative that you recognize not only will the District Attorney have 45 days to respond to your motion or application for sealing, but CPL 160.59 mandates a hearing in the event there is an object or challenge. An easy lift and task this is not.

For the purpose of this blog entry on sealing arrests and convictions for Seventh Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, what does sealing mean? For that matter, does sealing equate to expungement? Is CPL 160.59 New York’s expungement law too? A little out of order, the first response is that New York will now seal up to two criminal convictions, but New York still does not expunge convictions. How is this different? While an expungement erases your conviction, sealing hides it. This hiding, if it is the proper term, is extremely broad. Yes, law enforcement will be able to access your conviction for PL 220.03 and it can be used against you in a later criminal proceeding, but for the most part your criminal record will be stripped away from both public and private view. Fearful of that criminal background check exposing your misdemeanor drug possession conviction for cocaine? The courts and criminal justice agency will no longer be openly sharing this information. You read that right. What’s even better, New York businesses will no longer be allowed to ask you or require that you share any information about a sealed criminal conviction. It doesn’t end there. Employers cannot take an adverse position against should they learn about a conviction that is now sealed. This is a potential boon to you, a person convicted of possessing drugs and controlled substances for personal use.

It should go without saying that what is contained in a roughly 750 word blog entry does not even scratch the surface on sealing criminal convictions including misdemeanors for drug possession. There are certain documents and extensive information your sealing attorney must supply the court in their motion to seal your criminal conviction. There is work to be done and potentially a hearing where a judge can deny you what you have been waiting all these years to achieve – a life where your criminal past is minimized and tucked away to best allow your family and career blossom.

Take the time to educate yourself. Learn about New York’s “expungement” and misdemeanor drug sealing statute at Saland Law PC’s New York conviction sealing information page. Confer with your sealing lawyer to put forth the strongest motion for sealing. You will only get one chance to rid yourself of your past.

Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense firm founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors. The New York conviction sealing lawyers at Saland Law PC represents clients throughout the State of New York from Manhattan to Buffalo and everywhere to the left, right and in between.


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