Background Checks and Record Sealing in New York
In the past, anyone with a prior criminal conviction, particularly those with felony records, faced a true uphill battle in terms of escaping the stigma of their personal histories.
Prospective employers, college admissions personnel, professional licensing boards and the like could easily discover an applicant's prior mistakes and summarily exclude them from further consideration.
However, recent changes to the process surrounding background checks and record sealing in New York offer new hope to those wishing to move forward and lead productive lives. To begin this process, an individual should contact a New York record-sealing attorney as soon as possible.Previous Limits on the Sealing of Records
It used to be the case that New York had some of the most stringent limits in the nation in terms of post-conviction relief available to offenders, even if their case occurred many years prior or during their youth. Those found guilty of felonies could only hope to secure a “Certificate of Good Conduct” or a “Certificate of Relief from Civil Disabilities.”
Though such documents could perhaps help in certain contexts, they did not prevent interested parties conducting pre-employment or other types of background checks from learning about the applicant's conviction history.
Record sealing of a criminal conviction in New York was only possible for non-conviction records and cases in which offenders had taken part in a mandatory treatment or diversionary program included in their original sentence and who also fulfilled conditions of restitution, incarceration, probation and the like without difficulty. As a result, record sealing was, in reality, only available to a limited number of drug offenders and very few others.Expanded Access to Record Sealing
In an effort to mitigate the often crippling effects of convictions on the ability of individuals to overcome their past mistakes and gain the fresh start they need, the New York Legislature has broadened the scope of eligibility for the sealing of criminal records in a number of offense categories.
This change will allow most misdemeanor offenders and those convicted of certain types of felonies to pursue the sealing of their records so that they will no longer be discoverable by the general public or to agencies conducting civil background checks in New York City.Key Changes to the Law
As of October of 2017, N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law §160.59 will afford courts the discretionary ability to seal no more than two convictions, of which only one can be a felony, for any type of crime aside from a sex offense, class A or violent felony.Offenders must wait 10 years following conviction to seek the sealing of such records, but if granted following judicial consideration of several delineated factors, future background checks will be free of the damning information that has almost certainly diminished the prospects and potential of these individuals.
It should be noted that records sealed in this manner will still be accessible by certain types of licensing agencies such as those issuing gun permits and an array of law enforcement entities. However, the records will be unavailable to the general public going forward.
Furthermore, amendment of N.Y. Exec. Law §296 (16) ensures that private and public employers are prohibited from inquiring about the existence of sealed convictions and from taking any adverse actions against applicants in relation to them. This amendment is a crucial element of the background check and record sealing process in New York City.Exploring the Possibility of Record Sealing
There can be no denying that a criminal conviction, especially a felonious one, can have a catastrophic impact not just on the offender, but also that individual's entire family.
If you have made mistakes in the past but wish to clean the slate and begin anew, it makes good sense to consult with a criminal attorney who can explain how changes to the intersection of background checks and record sealing in New York may be able to positively impact your future.
Call the New York State criminal conviction sealing lawyers and former New York City prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.