Skilled Lawyers for NY Criminal Record Sealing in Albany’s Capital Region
Few things can hold you back in life like a criminal record. It can keep you from getting:
- Educational opportunities
- Professional licenses
- And so many other opportunities
Nearly all major employers (and even many small businesses) conduct background checks before hiring a new employee. Sealing your criminal record could be the key to a new job, a better reputation, and a renewed lease on life. It can help you put your past behind you, making that history invisible to most of the world.
However, clearing a record isn’t always easy, and New York’s sealing laws are complex. For example, some records seal automatically, some require taking legal action, and some can’t be sealed at all.
A New Law May Help
Under a new law effective October 7, 2017, individuals with eligible criminal convictions in New York will be able to apply to have their records sealed. This is an option that was not previously available in New York. It can truly afford a new lease on life to individuals who have struggled to find housing, employment, or pursue other opportunities as a result of having a criminal record.
The new law, New York Criminal Procedure Law Section 160.59, limits the number and types of convictions that are eligible for sealing, and it also includes stringent filing and court procedural requirements in order to successfully apply. As a result, while individuals with criminal records have the option to apply for sealing on their own, most will benefit greatly from hiring an experienced criminal law attorney.
This unfortunate chapter in your life has already gone on for too long, and the sealing process itself can take some time (typically about six months). You could miss out on any number of opportunities in the meantime, so it is truly in your best interest to take action and get a lawyer.
Let us help you put the power of a clean record on your side. on your side right away.
At E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy, we have decades of experience representing clients in New York’s criminal justice system. We know the courts, and we know the debilitating effects that a criminal conviction can have on a person’s life.
We can help you determine which protections you’re eligible for. We can also make sure that you approach the process correctly from day one – so that you don’t encounter additional setbacks or delays. If a criminal conviction is impacting your life, we encourage you to contact us to find out if your record is eligible for sealing under Section 160.59. If it is eligible, we can help you complete your application and, if necessary, represent you in court.
“The very best service you could ask for. I was treated with so much kindness and understanding of my situation, and I will always treasure that.”
Sealing Conviction Records in NY
Once a criminal record is sealed in New York, your entire criminal record becomes invisible and inaccessible to employers, landlords, licensing boards, and the general public — that includes charges, convictions, details, and even the mere existence of a criminal record. (There are a few exceptions, such as when applying to become a police officer or to work for select government agencies – and the record may still be used against you in future criminal trials.)
In other words, once you successfully seal your record, when you’re asked if you have a criminal history on a job application or in an interview, you can legally say “No.”
Criminal sealing isn’t available in every case, though. New York limits record sealing to a list of specific offenses. Fortunately, those include many drug-related offenses and a number of other criminal violations. More serious crimes – such as sexual assaults and certain violent crimes – are not eligible.
To qualify for criminal record sealing in New York:
- You must have no more than two convictions on your record (only one of which can be a felony).
- At least ten years must have passed since your most recent conviction.
- The offenses you seek to seal must each be on the list of New York sealable offenses.
- You may also be required to have completed an approved drug treatment or diversion program, if the offense is drug-related.
For other kinds of offenses, you may be required to first complete an alternative sentencing program.
Most convictions of children and minors are automatically sealed under New York law, but occasionally, an offender between the ages of 16 and 18 might be tried and convicted as an adult. In those cases, the judge may decide whether to treat the minor as a Youthful Offender (YO).
YO convictions are automatically sealed, but if the judge decides not to treat the minor as a YO, his or her criminal record might become public. Additionally, in some rare cases, a youth whose record was supposed to be treated as a YO discovers that their record is public by mistake.
If you or your child were convicted as a minor and you need to seek a sealed record, please contact our office right away.
Certificate of Relief from Disabilities (Restoration of Rights in New York)
Even if you don’t qualify for sealing, you may still be eligible for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities.
This certificate can restore certain rights, including the right to serve on a jury and to own a firearm.
Additionally, obtaining a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities can make it easier to get a job, get approval for a lease, qualify for public housing, or obtain a professional license.
That’s because, while the certificate will not make your record invisible, it does give you the “presumption of rehabilitation,” and that carries a lot of weight in this state.
Our attorneys have helped many New Yorkers successfully obtain a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities, and we’d like to help you get one too.
Certificate of Good Conduct in New York
People with multiple felonies on their record are ineligible for the Certificate of Relief from Disabilities, but they can still qualify for a Certificate of Good Conduct.
Practically speaking, these two certificates are very similar. However, the Certificate of Good Conduct requires an additional waiting period, which varies depending on the nature of your record, but generally applies as follows:
- Misdemeanors: One year
- Felonies (Classes C, D, and E): Three years
- Felonies (Classes A and B): Five years
FAQs: Sealing Your Criminal Record Under N.Y. Crim. Proc. Section 160.59
Q: What are the benefits of having your criminal conviction sealed?
The benefits of having a criminal conviction sealed can be substantial. In New York (as in other states), criminal convictions are public record. This means that they are accessible to anyone, including employers, landlords, and banks. Unlike certain other personal characteristics, companies are allowed to consider individuals’ criminal histories when evaluating applications for jobs, housing, and loans. As a result, having a conviction on your record – even one that is decades old – can foreclose numerous opportunities that would otherwise be available. Having a criminal conviction can prevent you from getting into school, obtaining a professional license, and pursuing various other endeavors as well.
When your criminal record is sealed, it becomes unavailable to the public. The law states:
“When a sentencing judge or county or supreme court orders sealing pursuant to this section, all official records and papers relating to the arrests, prosecutions, and convictions, including all duplicates and copies thereof, on file with the division of criminal justice services or any court shall be sealed and not made available to any person or public or private agency except as provided for in subdivision nine . . . .”
Q: What are the exceptions to sealing in “subdivision nine”?
Under subsection 160.59(9) of New York’s new criminal record sealing law, convictions that have been sealed will still be available to:
- Corrections agencies
- Employers screening applicants for police or peace officer positions
- Federal and state law enforcement (for law enforcement purposes only)
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (for firearm background check purposes only)
- Office of Professional Medical Conduct
- State and local firearm licensing authorities
Q: Is sealing a criminal record the same as expunging a criminal record?
Not quite. Many states offer a process called “criminal expungement,” in which your criminal record is both hidden from the public and physically destroyed (sometimes even including the official government record) — though different states offer different forms of expungement.
New York does not use the term “expungement,” so technically speaking, it is not possible to expunge a criminal record in our state. Sealing a criminal record is similar, however, in that it effectively hides your criminal record from the public, as outlined above. In some cases, it is even possible to have your criminal record destroyed through the sealing process in New York. In fact, New York’s sealing statute offers greater protection than the expungement statute in some other states.
Q: What criminal convictions are eligible for sealing under Section 160.59?
Under subsection 160.59(2)(a), you can seek to have up to two criminal convictions sealed, including one felony. Each conviction must be at least 10 years old, calculated from the later of (i) the date of sentencing, or (ii) the date of your release from incarceration.
Q: If I Was Convicted of Multiple Offenses at the Same Time, Can I Still Get My Record Sealed?
If you were convicted of multiple counts or offenses that were “committed as part of the same criminal transaction” — and if each of those offenses is eligible for sealing — they will count as only a single conviction for purposes of the “two convictions” sealing rule.
However, Class A felonies, violent felonies, and most sex offenses are entirely excluded from eligibility.
Q: What is the procedure for filing to have a criminal record sealed in New York?
In order to have your New York criminal record sealed, you must file a completed application with the appropriate court. A copy of your application must also be served on the District Attorney in the appropriate county. The District Attorney then has 45 days from the date of service to object to your application. If no objections are filed, the court can issue a ruling on your application without a hearing, taking into consideration factors including (among others):
- The amount of time that has passed since your last conviction
- The circumstances and seriousness of the conviction(s) you are seeking to have sealed
- The circumstances and seriousness of any other convictions on your record
- Your personal character and any steps you have taken toward rehabilitation
- The impact of sealing on your rehabilitation and “successful and productive reentry and reintegration into society”
Q: Will I Have to Go to Court?
In most cases, no. We are usually able to secure a sealed record or a Certificate of Good Conduct (or Relief from Disabilities) without requiring you to attend court.
We know that you’re already working hard to find or keep a job, so we will also work hard to avoid you having to miss work if at all possible.
Contact Our Experienced Attorneys about Sealing Your Criminal Record
You shouldn’t have to spend the rest of your life paying for a single mistake — or even a series of mistakes.
It’s time for a brand new start. Put your criminal record behind you once and for all.
If you would like to find out if your criminal record is eligible to sealed, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. To speak with one of our experienced New York criminal law attorneys in confidence, please call (518) 274-5820 or request an appointment online today. We serve every city and county in New York, including Albany, Troy, Schenectady, Saratoga, and beyond.