The Law Firm of Higbee & Associates has won an appeal in the Appellate Term of the Supreme Court of the State of New York for the 9th and 10th Judicial Districts. In the case of The People of the State of New York v. Todd J., the appellate court rejected the reasoning for the denial of a sealing petition and ordered the lower court to hold a new hearing to determine the applicant’s eligibility to have their record conditionally sealed. The lower court had denied the petition for conditional sealing by Todd J., finding their case to be ineligible for relief under CPL 160.58 because their sentence did not meet the conditions for receiving a conditional sealing.
Under CPL 160.58, an individual may petition the court to conditionally seal their conviction relating to a controlled substance offense under article 220 of the New York Penal Law, if they receive as part of their sentence an order to complete a treatment program or a judicial diversion program. Todd J. had completed a treatment program as part of their sentence, however the treatment program was initiated and completed before CPL 160.58 came into effect, so the treatment program did not meet the narrow definition of eligible treatment under CPL 160.58. The appellate court ultimately found that the County Court erred in its judgement to deny the motion solely on the basis that Todd J.’s treatment program did not meet the narrowly defined programs named in CPL 160.58. The lower court now must hold a new hearing and determine if the treatment Todd J. completed was substantially similar in duration and intensity to the defined drug treatment programs. If, after evaluation, the treatment program completed by Todd J. is close enough to another judicially sanctioned drug treatment program, then Todd J. is eligible for conditional record sealing.
This ruling is important for all of those applicants who petition the court for conditional sealing relief under CPL 160.58. It sets a standard for the courts to evaluate an applicant’s treatment program that is more inclusive of those programs that may not be specifically enumerated in CPL 160.58. The courts must spend more effort evaluating a treatment program to determine if it is substantially similar in duration and intensity to one of the enumerated treatment or judicial diversion programs. If the court finds that a program does fall under that umbrella, then the court may not deny the applicant’s petition based solely on the fact that the treatment program may not be literally named in CPL 160.58. Additionally, the appellate court’s decision further affirms the standard that someone being sentenced prior to CPL 160.58 being available is not a reason to deny an applicant’s petition.
The Law Firm of Higbee & Associates is proud of Attorney Mr. Rayminh Ngo for achieving this victory for their client and making sure justice is provided to Todd J. and other New York applicants who may find themselves in a similar situation. If you are someone who needs legal services to seal your record, please contact us at (877) 573-7273 to check if you are eligible.