Can I Get a New York Criminal Conviction Sealed or Expunged?
Yes. It is now possible (starting in October, 2017) to get New York criminal convictions sealed in New York thanks to a new conviction sealing law, Criminal Procedure Law Section 160.59. This is a sealing law, not an expungement law. People often use the term sealing and expungement as if they are the same thing, but they are not. Expungement means erasing all information about the conviction from the universe. The new conviction sealing law in New York does not do that. In this case, sealing means hiding the information from the public and even the Government for most purposes, but law enforcement will be given access to the information under limited circumstances. As a general rule this new sealing law in New York will provide exactly the relief people are looking for and allow them to move on from the conviction or convictions that have been haunting them.
The new law means that up to two convictions can be sealed, and one of them can be a felony.
There are some exceptions and rules, however. Violent felony offenses (and most sex offenses) will not be eligible for sealing under the new sealing law. Also, those with more than two convictions will not be eligible to take advantage of Section 160.59. Further, ten years must have gone by since the conviction. Anyone who has a criminal conviction should review his or her situation with a lawyer in order to carefully review eligibility. We have developed a rough online New York eligibility for conviction sealing quiz for people to get an idea, but anyone using this quiz should verify the result (either way) with a real live human criminal defense lawyer.
The new sealing law in New York requires that a fairly complex motion be prepared, filed, and argued to the Court that sentenced the person convicted. There is the possibility of a hearing. Therefore, this is not the sort of thing that can be done in a casual way, like filling out some form at the DMV. The level of complexity and depth of the motion will demand that a lawyer be engaged to make it in order to have the best chance of success. The motion is more than simply a place to review the good things the person has done. The motion to seal requires an analysis of the underlying charges as well as an analysis of any other criminal history (including cases that did not result in convictions). Therefore it will involve reviewing case files and it will require understanding of the negotiation process in the court where the case is being argued. Sentencing transcripts will likely need to be ordered and reviewed in order to be best prepared to address the factors required to be addressed by the sealing statute.
A person wishing to have the greatest likelihood of success with a motion to seal a conviction under Section 160.59 will be well advised to obtain the services of an attorney to make a motion to seal a conviction.