As of the drafting of this blog entry, if you asked any New York expungement or sealing lawyer whether or not the legislature or the courts have a mechanism, law or process to either expunge or seal criminal convictions and criminal records, the quick and easy answer would be “no.” Starting in October 2017, however, all of this will change for the benefit of just about anyone convicted of a crime in New York. With the passage of New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59, often referred to as either NY CPL 160.59 or NY Crim. Pro. Law 160.59, New York State will allow just about any person convicted of one or two misdemeanors to apply for record and conviction sealing. What you should notice about the sentence that led into this one are the words uses. Simply, no everyone, or better stated, not every criminal offense, will be eligible for sealing. Equally important, sealing and expunging are two unique means to hide or remove a criminal conviction or record. While sealing is potentially life altering to a convict from the smallest to most serious misdemeanor, vacating a criminal conviction through expungement is not available in New York. Do not worry, however, practically speaking, if you put forth your most diligent and compelling efforts, your sealing lawyer may still be able to provide you what has eluded your for a decade or far longer.
As long as the crime or crimes for which you were convicted do not involve a sex offense or an attempt to commit a sex crime, you likely will clear hurdle one. Similarly, if the misdemeanor crime for which you were convicted in Kingston, Newburgh, Yonkers, Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Syracuse or Watertown resolved itself more than ten years ago, you will likely clear hurdle two. No ongoing criminal case winding its way through the criminal justice system? You just cleared hurdle three. As tired as your legs may be, the misdemeanor crime you seek to seal cannot be defined as a sex offenses to clear hurdle four. Lastly, for the purpose of this very general review of the sealing statute, As a matter of law and defined by statute, if your crime is not a violent offense, then consider another hurdle cleared on your way to record sealing pursuant to New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59.
Without addressing the numerous subsections, details and requirements found in CPL 160.59, the very short answer again is that you can seal up to two misdemeanor criminal convictions in New York as of October 2017. Convicted of a felony? While the maximum number of convictions that are eligible for sealing is two, only one of these crimes may be a felony. This felony offense involves the same threshold that must be passed as misdemeanors, but many other more requirements must also be cleared.
Obviously, the sealing process in New York is a complicated one in terms of materials that must be provided, the legal basis and reason a judge should seal your criminal past, and a why there is a benefit not merely to you, but to the public if your case were to be sealed and removed from the public domain. An easy procedure it is not and a daunting one without the legal know how of your sealing lawyer. What do you need to provide the court? How will you get it? What makes your case so compelling? Even assuming you and your attorney can convince your sentencing judge that your case should be sealed over the possible objection by the District Attorney, if expungement isnt an option is sealing really worth it?
While certainly a subjective response, think about that question with the following answer:
Sealed cases in New York, subject to exceptions, are removed from the public’s view on background checks providing criminal convictions from the State of New York. Even better, the legislature amended the sealing laws to prohibit most employers from inquiring about or demanding you share information about a case you successfully sealed in accordance with New York CPL 160.59. The icing on the cake? Should an employer become aware of your sealed case, he or she cannot inquire or use the fact that your case was sealed against you as the basis for the reason to not hire you for the particular position.
Be smart and take advantage of this very new and unique opportunity. Cleanse, clean, hide, seal your misdemeanor record and convictions. The value of and to a new life and career can’t be calculated, but it is a relief from the dues you have paid and continue to pay since your arrest years ago.
To learn more about New York sealing laws and how it relates to expunging your misdemeanor or felony criminal record, review this blog as well as the New York Sealing Law information page with a more in depth analysis of New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59 eligibility, process, relevant factors and effects.
Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense firm established by two former Manhattan prosecutors. Saland Law PC and its New York conviction sealing lawyers represent clients throughout the State of New York in CPL 160.59 applications and hearings.