As New York Criminal Defense lawyers we are constantly called about expunging old New York Criminal records and over the many years I have been in practice it has been frustrating to inform people whose lives have been forever altered by an old New York criminal conviction that there was no mechanism to seal or expunge a criminal conviction in New York. In the past we have offered half measures such as certificates of relief from civil disabilities or certificates of good conduct. However, great news has arrived. Beginning in October 2017 the New New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59 will go into effect permitting a motion to be made to seal up to two criminal convictions including one felony. This is welcome news for anyone whose professional life is being held back by a past mistake.
New York Criminal Procedure Law provides for sealing of up to two criminal convictions and up to one felony. Convictions for violent felony offenses, homicides, sex offenses and any conviction that requires SORA (Sex Offender Registration) are ineligible for sealing as well as conspiracy of attempts to commit ineligible crimes. In order to qualify for sealing the applicant must not have been convicted of a crime in the preceding 10 years and any time spent in prison or jail in that 10 year period is added back into the 10 years. For example if a person served 5 years in prison after a conviction they would need to wait 15 years before they could apply for sealing under CPL 160.59.
Procedurally, CPL 160.59 sealing requires that an application be made to the Court. For a person sealing more than one conviction the sealing application must be brought in the Court where the most serious conviction took place. The application must include a copy of Certificate of Disposition for each conviction (or an explanation of why one could not be obtained) and a sworn statement of the person seeking sealing that sets forth the convictions for which sealing is sought, whether other applications have been brought for sealing, and the reasons why the person is seeking the sealing. The application must also include any other sealing applications that have been filed. The entire package must be served on the District Attorney’s Office in the County in which sealing is sought.
The District Attorney’s Office has 45 days to notify the Court about whether or not they will oppose the sealing. Some District Attorney’s Offices have already announced that they will not routinely oppose sealing. However, if the application is not summarily denied by the Court because it may not be granted under the law or the application is deficient, and the District Attorney opposes the sealing application than the Court must hold a hearing under CPL 160.59 (6) to allow each side to present evidence about whether the matter should be sealed.
In determining whether a case should be sealed the Court may examine certain enumerated factors set forth in CPL 160.59 (7). These factors include: the amount of time that has elapsed since the last conviction, the character of the person seeking sealing and any efforts made toward rehabilitation, the seriousness and circumstances of the crime, any statements made by the victim, and any impact that the sealing would have on public safety and the impact on the rehabilitation of the person seeking sealing.
These applications must be prepared correctly and preferably by an experienced criminal defense lawyer because failure to file a proper application could result in summary denial of the application. In addition, at the beginning, there will be no legal or procedural precedence for dealing with these applications so they may be a little more difficult at first.
If you are being held back because of an old conviction, contact us today to schedule a free , friendly and fast over the phone consultation to determine whether you may qualify to get a conviction sealed.