Eligible Offenses for Record Sealing in New York

In terms of anyone's future prospects in the realms of education, employment and social standing, few things have the sort of detrimental impact of a criminal conviction, especially one that results in a felony record.

For many, mistakes that were made long ago continue to prevent them from building a positive, productive life, even though they have fully paid their debt to society.

However, legislators have seen fit to broaden opportunities for individuals to gain a fresh start by expanding the list of eligible offenses for record sealing in New York. To begin this process, it is imperative to contact an experienced New York record-sealing lawyer.

Limited Nature of Prior Record Sealing Rules

In past years, it was quite difficult for those with criminal histories to successfully petition to have those records sealed, and the consequences of that fact were predictable indeed.

Large numbers of individuals whose offenses occurred far in the past and which could often be attributable to youthful ignorance of their harsh and lasting consequences stood little chance of securing a clean slate.

Attempts to secure gainful employment, professional licenses and admission to college were routinely scuttled once a civil background check brought one or more convictions to light.

Before the legislature's decision to take action with regard to the sealing of certain criminal records, such a benefit could only be granted to those with non-conviction records or cases in which an offender completed a court-ordered diversionary or treatment program and also met all specified conditions concerning probation, jail time, restitution and community service.

With these limitations in place, the practical outcome was that only a small number of individuals convicted of a narrow range of drug offenses were ever able to be eligible to have their records sealed in New York.

Broadened Eligibility for Sealing of Records

A legislative initiative to help individuals with prior criminal histories effectively reintegrate themselves into productive society has resulted in an expansion of the list of offenses that will be eligible for the record sealing process.

Pursuant to N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law §160.59, beginning in October of 2017, judges shall be afforded discretionary authority to seal records relating to a more extensive array of crimes, including many felony offenses, provided certain requirements are met.

It will now be possible for prior offenders to pursue record sealing for up to two convictions, as long as only one is designated as a felony. While records of sex offenses, Class A felonies and violent felonies will not be considered for sealing, a large number of individuals will be able to take advantage of the opportunity to get a new lease on life in many important ways.

Record sealing will not be made available to those convicted of multiple felonies or more than two crimes in total. Further, those with new criminal charges pending will not be considered under the expanded-scope sealing process.

It is also important to note that offenders must wait 10 years after the date their sentence was imposed or from the date of release from their most recent incarceration period in order to request sealing of records.

Benefits of Having Records Sealed

If, after reviewing an offender's record in accordance with a series of specifically enumerated criteria, a judge decides to grant a request to seal, the benefits to that individual are certain to be manifold.

From that point on, all official records relating to the relevant arrests, convictions and the like will be made wholly unavailable to members of the public and to private agencies such as those retained to conduct civil background checks.

Though records sealed to the general public will remain accessible by law enforcement agencies and other entities responsible for issuing certain types of licenses, the positive effect of their removal from the general public domain cannot be overstated.

In addition, a change to N.Y. Exec. Law §296(16) makes it unlawful for prospective employers to ask candidates about any sealed criminal records or to take related adverse actions against them.

Pursuing a Fresh Start

If you have a criminal conviction in your past, you are likely all too familiar with the negative ramifications it has had on your employment opportunities, educational prospects and overall social status.

However, changes in the law have made it more useful than ever to consult with a legal professional who can explain eligible offenses for record sealing in New York and help facilitate the outcome you desire.

Call the New York State criminal conviction sealing lawyers and former New York City prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

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