Expunging and Sealing Criminal Convictions in New York: Can My Entire Record be Vacated or “Hidden”

With the passage of New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59, there have been countless questions by those convicted of crimes as to what criminal convictions seal, how many criminal convictions can seal and whether the results of a sealing are the equivalent or same as expunging a criminal record. Fortunately, as you can discuss in greater detail with a New York sealing lawyer, the answer to these questions, although somewhat confusing, are clear. This entry will not address the multiple sub sections of CPL 160.59, but it will identify specifically how many convictions you can seek to have “washed” from your public record. For greater analysis on the other issues identified above as well as the intricacies of New York’s sealing law, this blog and the New York Sealing Information Page has much more information for review.

New York Crim. Pro. Law 160.59(2)(a) sets forth the number of crimes eligible for sealing. That number is only two. Therefore, on the face of the law, if you were convicted of multiple crimes beyond this two offense maximum, courts will not entertain sealing. Moreover, these two crimes cannot consist of more than one felony. A felony and misdemeanor? Not a problem. One felony? Again, not an issue. Two misdemeanor convictions on your rap sheet? Both would qualify on their respective faces assuming all of these crimes meet additional eligibility requirements.

Despite the “two conviction rule” there is an exception as it relates to the same criminal transaction. Where you pleaded to more than two crimes, but those offenses were part of the same instance in the same indictment or on the same criminal court complaint, the fact that the crimes that make up your criminal record are part of the same event will allow you to avail yourself of sealing. Similarly, and of equal importance, because the law explicitly states the maximum number of offenses that can seal is two, NY CPL 160.59(3)(f) precludes sealing where you have two otherwise eligible crimes, but subsequent to these convictions you were convicted of another offense. Along this same theory, NY CPL 160.59(3)(e) prevents sealing of two eligible offenses if at the time of your application and motion you have charges pending or an arrest that has not been resolved. Assuming the pending matters or arrest is disposed of without a criminal conviction and the other elements for eligibility are met and satisfied, you would be able to file your motion.

A bit of a winding navigation through a small, but important, piece of New York’s criminal record sealing statute, your take home as it relates to this element should be fairly clear. No, three or more criminal convictions are not eligible for sealing barring them being part of the same criminal transaction. Unless your criminal record consists of no more than two convictions excluding the exception above, your criminal record cannot be cleansed with sealing. Lastly, if you have an ongoing criminal case, but only two prior convictions, you would be eligible for sealing if and when your current arrest, indictment or prosecution resolved itself in a non-criminal disposition.

To read more about sealing a criminal case, the procedure, process, relevant materials required, and the value of NY CPL 160.59, the links contained in this entry will provide you with the framework to make an educated decision whether you should retain a criminal attorney to file an application on your behalf.

Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense firm established by two former colleagues who served as prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. The New York sealing attorneys at Saland Law PC represent clients in Crim. Pro. Law 160.59 applications throughout New York State.


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