New York Conviction and Record Sealing

Your last conviction was over ten years ago. You have been a law-abiding citizen since your arrest for Petit Larceny, Grand Larceny, Assault, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, Criminal Possession or Sale of a Controlled Substance, Forgery or whatever you pleaded to in a New York court. Every employment check reveals your record and you find yourself passed over no matter how you have made amends for your past failings. Can your criminal record and past convictions now be sealed or expunged in New York? Is there a process or means to prevent employers from finding an old case? Can courts only sea seal misdemeanors or can felonies be expunged too? All of these questions can be summed up fairly easily. Are you eligible for sealing and what is the process to do so? Fortunately, the criminal lawyers, sealing attorneys and former prosecutors at Crotty Saland PC have successful “closed” cases to the public’s prying eyes through motions filed pursuant to Criminal Procedure Law 160.59 and the same can potentially be done for you as well.

Sealing vs. Expungement

Before addressing who is eligible, what crimes a court can seal, what the implications are if successful, and the process to get you to “clean” your public record, you need to understand the difference between sealing as opposed to expungement. The major difference between the sealing and expunging is that the former generally prevents the public and employers from viewing past convictions. The latter vacates and removes the same from your history. Whether it is a good policy or not is for the legislature to decide, but New York currently does not expunge convictions. CPL 160.59 can not only limit or prevent the exposure of certain offenses, but further forbids an employer in New York from taking an adverse inference because of the past arrest. Equally significant, Executive Law 296(16) forbids an employer, barring certain exceptions, from requiring that you divulge your past “bumps” with the law. Simply, the benefits are unlike anything the state has offered in the past and provides some of the greatest advantages to give people back the lives they justly deserve.

Eligibility for Sealing of Criminal Convictions

There are many factors involved in determining whether or not your past can be “cleaned up.” Generally, the crimes can only be of a certain nature. For example, sex offenses and sex offenders need not apply. Moreover, no more than two offenses and convictions can be sealed. Of these, only one can be a felony and it must be at least ten years old. If the court sentenced you to prison or jail, this calculation commences from the time you were released. Only some of the factors for eligibility, there are numerous provisions and requirements set forth in Crim. Pro. Law 160.59 that you must satisfy to take advantage of the statute.

Sealing Procedure and Process

First, before filing a motion with the court and serving the District Attorney where you were convicted, you must obviously be eligible. Assuming that you are, the conviction sealing process requires that you secure numerous materials and draft the requisite motion. Not an easy task, you will need to provide, or counsel secure, a certificate of disposition, a sworn statement as to the conviction you want to have “removed” and a compelling argument clearly outlining why your sentencing judge should now do as you request all these years later. As crass as it sounds, who are you and why should a judge now give you this one-time opportunity and the benefit of the doubt? Even if the court views your submissions favorably, should the District Attorney challenge your application the judge must have a hearing to allow prosecutors and victims be heard on their respective positions.

What the Court Must Consider When Rendering a Decision

The court that sentenced you, or another judge in the jurisdiction, has wide discretion in determining whether or not he or she will grant you the relief you seek. Do not be naïve. This is a one-shot opportunity and one that you must be meticulous in both preparation and presentation. By no means are courts going to “hide” cases as a matter of course without doing their own due diligence. NY Procedure Law 160.59 has statutory guidelines as to what must be considered, but the law does not prevent judges from going beyond its four corners and examining any other factors for sealing they deem relevant. However, because there is some guidance, before submitting a motion both you and your counsel should be prepared to address, among other elements, the circumstances of the conviction, what, if any, rehabilitation, schooling or community service you have involved yourself in, the impact of the application on the public’s well-being and security, and how, if at all, closure furthers your re-introduction into society as a valuable member.

The Effect Your Rap Sheet and Career

As noted, NY CRPL 160.59 is not an expungement statute. A plea is neither vacated nor removed from your record. However, the next best thing, the benefits of sealing are potentially immeasurable. The District Attorney, NYPD, FBI and local police agencies will have a record of your arrest. Your fingerprints and mugshot will still be on file. However, the record will be otherwise blocked to private and most public agencies subject to some limited exceptions. Yes, you have still been convicted, but when your future employer runs your background check your past should not be present and available. Equally important, because of changes in the law, even if an employer – public or private – were to learn of your history whether based on your admission or otherwise, they are not permitted to take an adverse action based on this now non-disclosed arrest, plea or post trial verdict. Again, the benefits of this statute are enormous in scope and application. What may have been a career or job that was out of your reach can now potentially be achieved. You have paid for your wrongdoing and the state recognizes that your life should move forward for your betterment and that of your family.

“Black Out” and “Block” Your Criminal Convictions: Begin Your Future Today

Everyone makes mistakes. We all have flaws. However, when a criminal conviction is ten, fifteen or twenty plus years in the past and you have otherwise been a law abiding, hardworking and responsible members of your family and community, a second chance at life is well deserved. Sealing can be the tool and vehicle to literally keep your wrongdoing in your past where it belongs and clean up your rap sheet and stigma. Employers should not be able to hold over your head, or for that matter have access to, decades old infractions not relevant to the man or woman that you have become. No longer should these same companies, agencies and employers systematically get a free pass to take an adverse view of the person you are and be the arbiter of your future.

Consult with and retain a legal advisor and advocate. Read about and educate yourself on CPL 160.59. Seize this opportunity and take the time to put forth a cogent, effective and thorough motion or application. Put yourself in the best position to secure the closure you deserve. Do not miss this chance or waste this opportunity. Do it now. Change your trajectory. Begin your future today.

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

New York Criminal Lawyer Blog - Sealing and Expungement
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