Effect and Benefits

Take a moment to fully grasp the value and potential benefit of a sealed case pursuant to New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59. The advantages to a sealed misdemeanor or sealed felony is immeasurable but overwhelmingly obvious. Yes, you must work with your sealing and “expungement” lawyer in New York to best ensure your criminal convictions and record are eligible for sealing, the proper procedures in filing motions and applications are followed, and the necessary and relevant materials are provided to the court that sentenced you all those years ago, but you don’t need a New York sealing attorney to explain how a sealed criminal past can make a drastic impact in your life.

Let’s break it down. You were convicted of a misdemeanor – just about any misdemeanor – more than ten years ago. You have stayed out of trouble, but every time you apply for a job or want to pursue a career you have been stopped before you could even begin to start. You have been denied the opportunity, the promotion or maybe you couldn’t even get your proverbial foot in the door. As soon as you checked off the box acknowledging your criminal conviction your application went in a separate pile from those your prospective employer was considering. How much longer do you want to be denied for opportunities you are more than qualified to not just pursue, but excel at?

New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59: Close the Door with a Lock and Key

Once your sentencing judge, or the county or supreme court judge, who reviewed your case seals your eligible misdemeanors or felony, the formal and official message goes out to the State of New York. All official records relating not just to your conviction, but the arrest and prosecution on file with the Division of Criminal Justice Services or any court are sealed. This sealing is not the same thing as expunging, but by no means does this mean the value is not enormous to you. Simply, all of the records that are now sealed are also no longer available to any person – public or private – except in certain circumstances addressed below.

Exception to Sealing: What Records are Available and Who Can See

It is certainly fair that you, the person benefiting from the CPL 160.59 sealing, can access your records. However, others may as well. For example, law enforcement can review your records when or if you get arrested again in the future. A free pass sealing is not, but the records are only accessible for Federal or State law enforcement as it relates to and is a part of their law enforcement duties.

Additionally, New York State and other agencies responsible for issuing firearm licenses will not be precluded from examining your criminal record after you apply for a gun license or permit. Similarly, if you apply to serve as a police officer or peace officer, your criminal history will be available solely for employment purposes.

What is telling about CPL 160.59(9), the section that allows certain groups or agencies to “break the seal”, is not who is excluded, but the fact that every other employer, agency or person who does not fall into one of these categories is precluded from securing any information about, making inquiries into, or gaining access of your sealed criminal conviction.

The Bonus Benefit of Sealing: NY Human Rights Law and NY Exec. Law 296(16)

A great question to ask your New York State sealing attorney about the value of “expunging” your criminal record is fair and reasonable. Again, while your case is not expunged, most public and private individuals, groups, and agencies will not be able to learn of or see your criminal past. However, when asked if you have criminal record , in the limited circumstance this inquiry can be made, the answer does not change. You were convicted of a crime. You do have a criminal record. Fortunately, the New York State Legislature thought through this issue too.

New York Executive Law 296(16) makes it unlawful, unless required by statute, for any person, agency, bureau, corporation, or association to inquire about orally in an interview or on an application in written form, or adversely act upon an old arrest or criminal conviction not currently pending that resolved itself favorably. Further, these adverse measures or positions cannot be pursued in conjunction with your employment, licensing, providing of credit or insurance because of your sealed felony or misdemeanor. Even more protective, the law specifically mandates that once your criminal conviction is sealed pursuant to New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59 you shall not be forced or required to divulge the facts, evidence, allegations or any other matters about your sealed arrest or conviction.

A Practical Scenario: The True Value of CPL 160.59 Sealing

Maybe ten, fifteen or twenty plus years ago you made a grave mistake due to youth, inexperience, economic issues, or simply arrogance and stupidity. You stole a credit card and made $1,500 in purchases. As a result, you were ultimately convicted of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree or Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree for the theft or possession of the stolen credit card. Alternatively, maybe you used the credit card as described above and were convicted of Third Degree Grand Larceny for the purchase and Second Degree Forgery for signing the rightful owner’s name on the transaction. Whatever the crime and circumstance, it has continued to haunt you. With the passage of CPL 160.59 the days of owning up to a juvenile mistake, sheepishly taking ownership of an enormous gaffe, and explaining yourself are for the most part over and limited.

Instead of fearing a background check that will “pop” this criminal conviction, CPL 160.59 will seal your public record and limit its availability. Instead of your employer or licensing agency making all sorts of inquiries and finding some excuse to throw your application in the garbage, they cannot ask about what they do not know. Yes, again, you have a criminal record, but because it has been resolved and sealed, New York prevents any employer in most cases from making an inquiry if you had a sealed criminal conviction and, if somehow they became aware, from taking adverse actions.

Expungement it is not, but New York’s sealing law is a close second and an opportunity that has never been available to those who repented and rejoined society decades ago. The chance to change the trajectory of your life and that of your family is unparalleled. Seize it now. Take the steps to find the right attorney to advocate for you, prepare the motion and application, and put you in best place to stick the past back where it belongs. Every day you wait is another day of your future that slips away.

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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Let me start by saying how amazing Liz Crotty is! I am a resident of California, who needed representation for my son who received a desk citation while he was visiting NYC. Liz jumped on the case right away; she was very thorough in explaining things to me. She is strictly business too! She went to court on my son's behalf and had his case dismissed. I am forever grateful to her. Seana G.
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