NY Human Rights Law: A Closer Look at NY Executive Law 296(16)

One of the greatest benefits to sealing a criminal conviction in New York is not merely the fact that New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59 can “remove” and pseudo-expunge up to two convictions of which one can be a felony, but the amendment made by the NYS Legislature to New York Executive Law 296(16). New York’s Human Rights Law, as codified in part by NY Exec. Law 296, offers relief to convicts who have secured a judge’s discretionary sealing, a previously unattainable benefit.

According to NY Exec. Law 296(16), it is an “unlawful discriminatory practice”, baring some exclusions and statutory prohibitions, for “any person, agency, bureau, corporation or association, including the state” to inquire in any capacity about a non-pending criminal case, arrest or accusation that ended in favor of the applicant. This law is enforceable whether the inquiry is a formal one such as on the face of an application or an oral one such as during the course of an interview. While this section of the statute has not changed, the amendment to NY Exec. Law 296(16) includes any conviction which is now sealed pursuant to NY Crim. Pro. Law 160.59, New York’s criminal conviction and record sealing statute. In short, the law expanded to include sealed crimes that previously left a person exposed in an adverse manner.

Fortunately for those who have paid their dues to society, NY Exec. Law 296(16) is expansive. Inquiries and questions as to sealed convictions are also prohibited “in connection with licensing, employment… providing of credit, or insurance.” No, the law doesn’t end its shielding of your past there. To that end, you cannot be mandated to divulge or share any information at all about your sealed criminal conviction, arrest or accusation. Simply, for the most part your conviction is under “lock and key.”

Like most other laws, there are exceptions to this “expungement” of your criminal record and you should never forget that law enforcement, acting in its professional capacity, has access to your criminal conviction(s). For example, your criminal past is accessible to licensing agencies regulating guns, firearms ad other deadly weapons. Should you seek employment as a police officers or peace officers, this information is available. Obviously, if you are arrested again, your sealed case will be exposed.

A Phenomenal Return to a Worthwhile Investment

It is likely no person – an attorney, lawyer or otherwise – needs to explain how preventing an employer from seeing a criminal conviction ten, fifteen or twenty plus years ago from your past is invaluable to your life and career moving forward. If anyone can explain how a criminal conviction has held them back, it’s you.

New York State, prosecutors and your sentencing judge are not going to come looking for you to seal your criminal record. You need to take the initiative and make sure that when you submit your criminal conviction sealing petition, criminal record sealing motion or whatever you call your application to seal your old criminal cases, that you do so in a concise and compelling manner. After all, this one opportunity may never present itself to you again.

Change your life now not just for you, but your family and their future. Take advantage of a law that has been years in the making. Your future can begin today, but it remains in your hands to start your life anew.

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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