The New York State Legislature recently passed a new law, Criminal Procedure Law § 160.59, that will give many more people with New York convictions an opportunity to have their previous convictions sealed or expunged. Up to now, New York law has only allowed this for a certain limited group of offenders whose offenses resulted in a dismissal, acquittal or similar outcome, or who were convicted of drug-related offenses and received adequate, verifiable treatments for their drug addiction. The latter option only became available in 2009, and ever since then the Legislature has not enacted any additional measures to expand sealing/expungement beyond that.
Eligibility Under The NY Record Sealing Law
In the most recent legislative session, the Legislature added (as part of its general fiscal/budget bill for 2017-18) a new statutory provision (section 160.59) to New York’s Criminal Procedure Law. Section 160.59 would allow anyone who has no more than one felony conviction (and no more than two total convictions) to request a court order to seal the records of up to two eligible convictions. Not every conviction is eligible. Any offense that requires sex offender registration is not eligible, as well as this list of ineligible offenses.
Furthermore, there is a 10-year waiting period after the person’s most recent conviction (from the time of the sentence or the time he was released from jail/prison, whichever was last) before he can apply for a sealing. There are other requirements that must be met, the district attorney/prosecutor will have an opportunity to object, and the court will have discretion to grant or deny any request.
Max # of convictions allowable for eligibility:
- 2 (of which no more than 1 felony).
Max # of convictions that can be sealed:
- 2 (including any previously sealed).
Minimum waiting period before eligibility:
- 10 years since last conviction (starts from time of sentence or from time of release from jail or
prison, whichever occurred last.
Offenses not eligible for record sealing:
- Any sex offense under PL 130.
- Any offense under PL 263
- A felony offense under PL 125
- Any “violent felony offense” (specifically defined under PL 70.02)
- Any class A felony offense.
- Any felony offense under PL 205 (if predicate/underlying offense is among the ineligible offenses here.
- Any felony attempt to commit any of offense that is ineligible.
- Any offense that requires registration as sex offender.
Offenses eligible for record sealing:
- Any offenses NOT in the list above are eligible for record sealing.
Benefits of The New Record Sealing Law
The new law – which goes into effect on September 27, 2017 – is a welcoming change for New York. It will help many rehabilitated, law-abiding individuals in the community clean up negative blemishes in their younger past, which often prevents them from access to employment, housing, credit and other positive opportunities in life—years after they have long completed their sentences and paid their dues for past wrongdoing. It would give more people a chance at a fresh start, help them better reintegrate into the community and be more productive members of society.
Please contact our office if you have any questions or are interested in determining your eligibility under the new expungement law, you can contact our firm toll free at (877) 573-7273 for a free confidential phone consultation.