New York Conviction and Record Sealing: 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.

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