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New Law allows Sealing of Certain Criminal Convictions

Has an old criminal conviction prevented you from getting a job or acquiring a benefit you are otherwise eligible to receive? Starting October 7, 2017, persons previously convicted of certain crimes can apply to have those convictions sealed. This statute might assist you or someone you

If granted, the records of the conviction will generally be unavailable to the public. However, these conviction records will remain available to certain law enforcement agencies, to local officials who license gun possession, to persons who hire police or peace officers, and to the FBI.
This new law will not allow a court to seal sex crimes, crimes requiring one to register as a sex offender, homicides, violent felonies, class A felonies, and attempts or conspiracies to commit these crimes. But everyone else, provided he or she meets certain criteria can apply to have one’s
conviction sealed.The criteria are:

  1. one has no more than two crimes including not more than one felony.
  2. one has not previously obtained a sealing order after a judicially sanctioned drug treatment program or this new statute.
  3. one does not have a pending criminal case.
  4. one’s last conviction was at least ten years ago, with any period of jail time served excluded from the ten-year calculation. If one were sentenced to probation and then went to jail, the ten year period starts when last released from jail.

Eligibility does not guarantee the judge will approve the sealing request. If the District Attorney opposes the request, the judge must conduct a hearing where the District Attorney and the defense could present evidence to aid the court to reach a decision. But until now even if the
judge agreed justice would be served by sealing the conviction, the judge could not grant the request.

The statute lists several factors the judge should consider including the time elapsed since the conviction, the circumstances, and seriousness of the offense and the original charge, efforts at rehabilitation, the views of any victim of the crime, and the impact sealing would have on the
defendant’s rehabilitation.

An order to seal a conviction does not prohibit a prosecutor from using the conviction in a subsequent prosecution of a new offense as otherwise allowed by law.

If you or someone you know could benefit from this new law, the statute will be codified at Criminal Procedure Law Section 160.59. One cannot file the application until October 7, 2017, but it would be wise to gather one’s evidence in advance.

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John Ferrara

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John Ferrara is a highly qualified and dedicated Family Law, Criminal, DUI/DWI Defense Lawyer in NY who can help you in your time of need.

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