Sealing Criminal Convictions in New York Opens New Job and Advancement Opportunities for those with old criminal convictions.
A new conviction sealing law in New York is paving the way to employment and advancement from current positions. Section 160.59 of New York Criminal Procedure Law, as of October, 2017 made it possible for people with up to two ten year old convictions, including one felony, to file a motion for sealing. If the motion is granted by the Court, a sealed conviction will generally become invisible to most employers, paving the way to employment and promotions for people previously excluded because of the conviction(s).
The new law does contain some exceptions. Violent felony offenses and most sex offenses are among the most notable exceptions. Convictions must be ten years old, and the applicant must have been out of trouble for ten years. But most convictions will be eligible after ten years.
The required motion is not a simple form, but rather a fairly complex motion requiring several parts and a detailed analysis of several factors that the Judge should consider. The prosecutor can object and force a formal court hearing on the sealing. Therefore, the sealing motion should be made with the assistance of an experienced lawyer.
The process generally takes about two months from filing to decision, although it could take more time if a hearing is required. The prep time to develop and write a motion to seal can be significant as well, because documentation must be gathered and the text of the motion developed. Part of the motion involves demonstrating that the ten years (or more) since conviction have been used wisely and productively. Therefore, it makes sense to start prepping the motion even months before the conviction is ten years old, so that the motion can be filed the day it is first eligible to be filed.
We have been highly successful thus far, winning sealing for clients in Nassau County, Queens, County, Bronx, and Brooklyn, and with many promising pending applications elsewhere. While of course motions to seal will be especially dependent on the individual person and the individual case, in our motions so far, the prosecutor offices have either taken no position or outright consented to every sealing motion we have filed.
So if you have an old New York conviction, and you feel as if that conviction is holding you back in terms of getting a job or getting a promotion from your current job, you should contact a lawyer to review whether or not you might be able to put the conviction behind you. Don't assume you are not eligible or that sealing in your case wouldn't be granted. Check out your eligibility and you may be pleasantly surprised.
By Don Murray, Esq,
Don Murray has been exclusively practicing criminal defense in New York City for 27 years, in Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Manhattan Criminal Court. He has written extensively about the New York Criminal Justice System, has handled numerous complex criminal trials during his career, and has been a frequent consultant to the entertainment industry regarding New York City Criminal Courts, including a recent on-set consultation in the NBC miniseries The Slap. He can be reached for consultations at 718-268-2171.