adult criminal convictions sealed

New York Courts Will Soon Have Discretion to Seal Adult Criminal Convictions

September 26, 2017

Beginning October 7, 2017, those with criminal convictions in New York may apply to have up to two adult criminal convictions sealed. Previously, only those with non-criminal records and those who completed a diversion or drug treatment program related to their conviction were eligible for having their criminal records sealed.

However, the Legislature recently enacted Criminal Procedure Law § 160.59, which will give a court discretion to seal up to two convictions after a 10-year waiting period from the date of conviction or release from prison. One of the two convictions may be a felony, although most sex offenses and all class A and violent felonies are excluded from eligibility for sealing.

Sealing will not be available to individuals convicted of more than two crimes or more than one felony or those who have exceeded the maximum allowable number of sealings under Criminal Procedure Law § 160.58 or § 160.59. It will also not be available to individuals subject to sex offender registration, those with pending criminal charges, and those who have had a subsequent conviction to the last conviction for which sealing is sought.

If your criminal conviction is sealed, it means that it will be unavailable to the public. A related law, Executive Law § 296(16), will also take effect on October 7, 2017, and this law will prohibit public and private employers and licensing agencies from asking about or denying employment/licensure because of a sealed conviction. Sealed records will remain available to certain agencies, such as courts, law enforcement, and some licensing agencies. Sealed convictions will remain “convictions” for purposes of sentencing.

An individual must wait at least 10 years from the date of sentencing or the date he or she is released from prison to apply. To apply for sealing, an individual must submit a petition to the court which presided over the conviction for the most serious offense sought to be sealed, or in some circumstances to the court which presided over the last conviction. The petition must include a statement of reasons why sealing should be granted, and the District Attorney has an opportunity to respond to the individual’s application for sealing. The judge must consider any relevant factors, including but not limited to the time that has lapsed since the last conviction, the seriousness of the offense, the defendant’s character, any victim impact statement, whether sealing the record would promote the individual’s rehabilitation and reintegration into society, and whether sealing would have any impact on public safety or on the public’s confidence in and respect for the law.

The attorneys at Pappalardo & Pappalardo, LLP are prepared to help you seal your convictions. Contact us today to set up a free consultation with an attorney to discuss whether you are eligible for relief under this new law.