Beginning October 7th, 2017, a new sealing law went into effect in New York state.
Criminal Procedure Law 160.59 allows people who have been convicted in no more than two cases to apply to seal certain convictions from New York if the convictions fulfill specific requirements:
- Only one of the convictions can be a felony case.
- Ten years have passed since the sentencing or release from jail or prison.
- The conviction cannot be a sex offense, violent felony, or serious felony.
It is also important to note that if you have several convictions that were “committed as part of the same criminal transaction,” they are counted as a single conviction.
What Does a Sealed Conviction Mean?
A criminal conviction can make it hard to find housing or employment, but sealing your convictions would change that. After a conviction is sealed, most employers, renters, and others would not be allowed to consider your sealed convictions.
However, there are still certain individuals and agencies who can gain access to your sealed convictions, such as:
- You (or someone you choose)
- Law enforcement agencies, including district attorneys’ ofﬁces, probation departments, and child protective services
- Employers considering you for a job as a police or peace ofﬁcer
- Agencies who review your gun license application
- The FBI if it runs a background check if you try to buy or possess a gun
Additionally, the sealed conviction would still be considered a conviction if there is a future criminal case where the prior conviction would enhance the penalty or otherwise is an element of the charge.
How to Apply for Sealing Under the New Law
You can find the necessary forms and instructions on the New York Unified Court System website. To apply, you must:
- File a motion with the court where you were convicted.
- Serve a copy to the District Attorney.
Then the judge and District Attorney will either make a decision or require a hearing to get further information.
When making the decision, the judge will consider:
- How long it has been since your last conviction
- The circumstances and seriousness of the offense
- If your original arrest charge was for an ineligible offense
- The circumstances and seriousness of any other convictions you have
- Positive actions you have undertaken, such as treatment programs, work, education, community service, or volunteering
- Current or past statements from the victim(s) of the offense
- The sealing’s impact on your reentry into the community
- The sealing’s impact on public safety
- Other factors the judge considers relevant
In most cases, you will only have one chance to make such a request, so it is in your best interest to seek legal guidance from lawyer who has experience with post-conviction relief.
Contact New York defense attorney Steven Hubert to learn how he can help you move forward with a clean slate!