(criminal justice reform)

Sealing of Criminal Convictions (criminal justice reform) Soon to Be Available in New York

According to Team Green Lawyers in Syracuse, New York, the new law that allows sealing of prior convictions goes into effect in October

For years, criminal justice reform advocates in New York State have pushed the state legislature to enact some form of expungement, allowing citizens with old criminal convictions to have the records of their prior convictions erased. While the efforts to enact expungement laws for New York have been repeatedly stymied, the legislature has recently taken a major step in relieving the burdens that old convictions can have on people’s personal and professional lives.

With the passage of the 2017-2018 budget bill, New York has passed a law allowing individuals with prior criminal convictions that are at least ten years old to apply to have the records of those convictions permanently sealed. Once those prior conviction records are sealed, they will no longer be available to the general public, easing difficulties that criminal convictions can have on those seeking employment, licensing and lending opportunities. Certain governmental agencies (including courts, state law enforcement and corrections agencies and firearm licensing agencies) will still have access to the records.

While the new law does not go into effect until October and the required application materials are yet to be drafted, the basic structure of the sealing process has been established. With regard to eligibility, individuals may seek sealing for up to two eligible offenses. Only one lifetime felony conviction can be sealed. Certain felony offenses have been exempted from the sealing law, including all violent felony offenses, most sex offenses and all class A felony offenses. There is a 10-year waiting period before an individual may apply for sealing, calculated from the sentencing date or the date that the person was released from incarceration.

The new legislation provides that, once eligible, the offender makes an application seeking the relief to the court in which they were sentenced. The prosecuting District Attorney’s office has 45 days to raise any objections to the sealing order request before the judge will make a determination to either grant or deny the request. The soon-to-be-enacted amendment to Criminal Procedure Law §160.59(7) lays out the criteria that a judge must consider in determining a criminal conviction sealing request:

In considering any such application, the sentencing judge or county or supreme court shall consider any relevant factors, including but not limited to:

  • The amount of time that has elapsed since the defendant’s last conviction;
  • The circumstances and seriousness of the offense for the which the defendant is seeking relief, including whether the arrest charge was not an eligible offense;
  • The circumstances and seriousness of any other offenses for which the defendant stands convicted;
  • The character of the defendant, including any measures that the defendant has taken toward rehabilitation, such as participating in treatment programs, work, or schooling, and participating in community service or other volunteer programs;
  • Any statements made by the victim of the offense for which the defendant is seeking relief;
  • The impact of sealing the defendant’s record upon his or her rehabilitation and upon his or her successful and productive re-entry and reintegration into society; and
  • The impact of sealing the defendant’s record on public safety and upon the public’s confidence in and respect for the law.

The new criminal conviction sealing law is a landmark step in ensuring that prior offenders do not suffer undue harm for youthful mistakes of their past. As with any application to a court, there are many variables that can impact the outcome. It is highly advised individuals in New York in these specific situations speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you through assist in this process. Experienced New York Attorneys Green & Brenneck of Team Green Lawyers can provide consultation and further information in regards to this new law.  Their team of experts are well-versed in the new legislation and can assist in making an application for sealing.

For more information, or to make a press inquiry, please call (315) 424-8326.

Source: Team Green Lawyers

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