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Eligibility Guidelines

Many a criminal defense attorney, judge and prosecutor in New York State has said that a criminal conviction is indelible, meaning, that a conviction for any crime follows you from the time of your plea until the end of days. Simply, you may have asked how you can have your criminal record expunged or how you can have a criminal conviction vacated and removed from public view, but the answer had always been the same. You could not. Fortunately, however, time does not stand still and both the New York criminal law and procedure evolves. With the passage of New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59, barring some exceptions, New York now allows for sealing of misdemeanor and felony criminal convictions.

Criminal Convictions Eligible for Sealing in New York

Not the same thing as the expunging of a criminal record, New York Crim. Pro. Law 160.59 to a limited sense provides the same relief. What was once available for employers, colleagues, neighbors and just about any agency conduct a background check may no longer be within their respective sights. Therefore, if you are applying for a job your sealed record would not be available for their review. No, the conviction is not erased nor your fingerprints destroyed, but what appeared as a conviction for Grand Larceny, Criminal Mischief, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, or just about any other misdemeanor or felony crime on a background check may no longer be visible.

Before rushing to your New York criminal lawyer or sealing attorney to file a motion pursuant to NY CRPL 160.59, know that not all crimes, offenses and convictions are eligible for sealing. To be eligible, or have an “eligible offense” as define by statute, the following crimes would prevent you from pursuing sealing:

  • a sex offense such as those requiring SORA registration;
  • a felony found under Article 125 of the New York Penal Law such as Second Degree Murder;
  • a legally defined “Violent Crime” such as First Degree Assault or First Degree Burglary;
  • a Class “A” felony such a crime involving significant weights of drugs including Frist Degree Criminal Possession or Sale of a Controlled Substance;
  • an attempt to commit a crime that is otherwise not an eligible crime as reflected above
Potential Eligible Offenses Available for Sealing

The list of eligible offenses for sealing purposes is broad. Merely because you may interpret or subjectively define a crime as a violent one does not mean it is classified legally as such. Not a complete list, eligible crimes include:

  • Third Degree Assault: NY Penal Law 120.00
  • Second Degree Aggravated Harassment: NY Penal Law 240.30
  • Petit Larceny: NY Penal Law 155.25
  • Fifth Degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property: NY Penal Law 165.40
  • Fourth Degree Criminal Mischief: NY Penal Law 145.00
  • Third Degree Criminal Mischief: NY Penal Law 145.05
  • Seventh Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance: NY Penal Law 220.03
  • Fifth Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance: NY Penal Law 220.06
  • Theft of Services: NY Penal Law 165.15
  • Fourth Degree Grand Larceny: NY Penal Law 155.30
  • Third Degree Grand Larceny: NY Penal Law 155.35
  • Drunk Driving and DWI: VTL 1192.3 and VTL 1192.2
  • Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon: NY Penal Law 265.01
  • Third Degree Trespass: NY Penal Law 140.10
  • Second Degree Trespass: NY Penal Law 140.15
  • Third Degree Burglary: NY Penal Law 140.20
  • Third Degree Robbery: NY Penal Law 160.05

By no means an exhaustive list of eligible crimes. In fact, it is likely that the crime for which you were convicted is an eligible offense and worthy of discussion and analysis with your New York sealing attorney. Do not misinterpret the law when determining whether you can pursue sealing. Yes, a Third Degree Robbery, Third Degree Assault and Third Degree Burglary appear to be violent crimes, but you might be surprised to learn that the law does not define these offenses as violent and therefore you would not be precluded from sealing on the face of the offense.

Relevant Time Frame to Seal Eligible Offenses

Assuming your prior conviction is an eligible one, New York Crim. Pro. Law 160.59 does not provide a clear pathway to sealing. There are additional requirements to discuss with your attorney. One such factor that a court will take into consideration is whether or not your criminal conviction is at least ten years old. If you were incarcerated in prison or jail, the ten years commences upon your release. Moreover, you cannot currently have a criminal case that is working itself through the criminal justice system. Any of this will render you ineligible.

Is there a Limit on the Number of Eligible Offenses that a Court Can Seal

New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59 allows for the sealing of up to two convictions. Only one of these may be a felony. There is an exception, however. If you are convicted of more than two crimes and they are all part of the same transaction, then the sentencing judge or court that had your criminal case over a decade ago can seal all of these offenses if they are legally tied to the same event and criminal activity.

Liberate Yourself from Your Criminal Record Today

Nobody needs to tell you how many opportunities you have lost due to your criminal record. It matter not that you have taken responsibility and become an honorable man or woman providing for a family or working as a respected member of your community. If your career, livelihood and personal life has been held back, NY Crim. Pro. Law 160.59 is the vehicle to seal your criminal record from most public and private organizations and those who otherwise could see your criminal past. While your case won’t be dismissed or expunged, thanks to the forward thinking of the New York State Legislature, not only does your judge have the ability to seal your case should he or she believe you are a worthy candidate, but the law prevents employers from adversely using your sealed record against you for employment purposes, asking about the sealed offenses are forcing your to share information about the a.

This is your chance to turn your life around or avail yourself of opportunities you thought you were precluded. Be smart. Educate yourself. Be diligent. Exercise your rights. Contact the New York sealing lawyers, criminal defense attorneys and former Manhattan prosecutors today. You’ve already lost enough time.

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

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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