The old adage of “no news is good news” does not hold water when it comes to New York’s arcane and outdated criminal record expungement and sealing laws. Much to the frustration of many criminal defense attorneys who have witnessed firsthand good people getting caught up in the criminal justice system, the answer to a client’s request about the sealing and expungement of their criminal past was always the same (“was” being the relevant word). In fact, unlike many states, New York doesn’t expunge criminal records whether your conviction stemmed from a misdemeanor Third Degree Assault arrest as a twenty year old college student in Buffalo or White Plains or from a felony Fourth Degree Grand Larceny conviction you were shackled with after making an epic mistake charging $2,500 worth of personal items on the company credit card of your employer in Manhattan or Brooklyn. Whether you have long since paid for your drug crime or shown that you are an asset to society despite your conviction for a forgery related offense, New York legislators have been unsympathetic to your plight up until now. Fortunately, however, your future is about to change and drastically so.
While you may not have the opportunity for the expungement of your criminal record nor have your arrest vacated, under a new provision found in New York Criminal Procedure law section160.59, the court where your sentencing occurred will now have the discretion to seal some or all of your criminal record depending on the number of convictions and the nature of the offenses.
As welcoming as this may be for anyone convicted of a crime it is critical to recognize that every conviction is not eligible for sealing. Moreover, there are requirements that you must reach in order for a court to consider your request. First, and very briefly, a court can only seal a maximum of two convictions from your record and no more than one felony. Should you have a conviction for Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument and Seventh Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, a felony and misdemeanor respectively, on the face of the new statute both offenses would qualify for sealing as long as you were either convicted or released from prison more than ten years earlier. As you will likely discuss with your criminal sealing attorney in New York, there are exceptions to this rule as it relates to the same criminal transaction and conviction, but this and other details will be vetted with the lawyer of your choosing when you file your motion to seal your criminal conviction(s).
When considering whether you should spend time and money for an attorney to file a motion on your behalf, it should be overwhelmingly clear that the benefit to a sealed criminal past is enormous. In fact, because of amendments to New York’s Human Rights Law, the sealing of this criminal past of up to two convictions is quite broad. While law enforcement, such as the police and the District Attorney, will have access to the sealed records, the benefit to a convict is that employers will generally not have the ability to question you about a criminal conviction nor see a record of your plea or post trial conviction. Is this a complete pass and walk away from your past? I cannot answer that question, but it certainly provides for a future you likely never believed would be available.
At bottom, this new law can change what was a downward trajectory in the life and career of any person convicted of a crime in New York. Do not wait to liberate yourself from your criminal past. Hit the ground running now so your attorney can file your motion for sealing in October 2017. Take the steps today so you and your counsel can present the strongest motion and package to your sentencing court, Give your sentencing judge a reason to seal your criminal convictions that have crippled your employment and career growth.
To learn more about New York criminal conviction sealing law, the specific provisions relating to both eligibility and process, and how you can potentially get out from underneath your criminal past, review the New York Criminal Sealing and Expungement Page where you will find a greater analysis of Criminal Procedure Law 160.59, pertinent subsections and links to other blogs and analysis.
The law is finally on your side. Arm yourself with knowledge and seal your criminal record today.
Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense firm and conviction sealing law practice. The criminal defense attorneys at Saland Law PC served as Manhattan prosecutors and represent clients throughout New York State in criminal record sealing.