New York Record Sealing Sentencing Judges

A criminal conviction of virtually any type, even one that occurred years or even decades in the past, can continue to have devastating ramifications for the rest of the offender's life.

From difficulty obtaining employment to combating the inevitable social stigma certain to ensue, those who made mistakes long ago often wonder if any options exist for legally wiping the slate clean.

A New York record sealing attorney well-versed in changes to state statues in this realm can provide essential guidance on New York record sealing sentencing judges and the criteria they use to render decisions.

Prior Restrictions

Historically speaking, the New York legislature took a comparatively restrictive view of the scope of criminal records eligible for eventual sealing by a sentencing judge. Hope of obtaining this type of fresh start was generally limited to those who had been convicted of certain types of drug offenses for which treatment or diversionary programming was mandated and completed and other conditions of restitution and supervision were fulfilled.

As such, those who had felony convictions, even non-violent ones, had little hope of ever fully putting their past errors behind them. Rehabilitation into productive society would therefore always be hindered by the potential revelation of prior crimes via a pre-employment background check or some other mode of discovery by members of the public.

Seal Change in New York's Approach to Record Sealing

A significant move by the New York legislature meant to further the societal aims of rehabilitation and reentry of convicted offenders provides expanded opportunities for the sealing of many criminal records upon proof of cooperation with a series of key conditions.

Beginning in October of 2017, N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law §160.59 affords judges the ability to seal many types of criminal records in New York City which were previously ineligible for such action. The positive implications for those saddled with aging criminal records which are not representative of their character cannot be overstated.

Types of Sealable Offenses

In order to be considered for sealing in New York, a criminal record must pertain to a sentence imposed no less than 10 years prior or must be at least 10 years removed from the release date of the most recent conviction for which sealing is sought.

While felony criminal records can potentially be sealed, eligibility is not extended to sex offenses, violent felonies, and Class A felonies. Sealing is not available to individuals with more than two convictions, and only one felony per offender may qualify for sealing.

The Role of Judges in Sealing New York Criminal Records

For a petitioner to initiate the process of a record sealing request in New York City, an application will have to be made to the court in which the conviction was obtained for the most serious crime at issue.

Alternatively, the application should be made to the court in which the individual last received a conviction, if the offenses sought for sealing were all within the same category. A judge will require a sworn statement articulating the petitioner's arguments in favor of sealing.

If only one conviction is included in the petition for sealing, the application will be evaluated by the sentencing judge or to the county or supreme court in all other instances.

The appropriate District Attorney for the matter in question is entitled to be served with the petition and will be afforded 45 days to voice any objections to it being granted. Should none be raised, the assigned judge can render a decision without holding a hearing.

Contact an Attorney

New York record sealing sentencing judges considering a petition must review a series of statutorily articulated factors, including those related to an applicant's other brushes with the law, amount of time elapsed since the last conviction, the seriousness and circumstances of the offenses at issue and more.

A seasoned attorney can help provide you with a better understanding of your chances of taking advantage of this tremendous opportunity for a new beginning.

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