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New Yorkers Are Not Taking Advantage of CPL 160.59 – New York’s Newest Sealing Law

In late 2017, we reported on the enactment of CPL Section 160.59, New York’s newest sealing statute. According to a recent New York Daily News article, however, the benefits of the statute have been largely ignored, which is unfortunate.

In a nutshell, CPL Section 160.59 allows people with certain non-violent/non-sex offense convictions to apply for judicial sealing of their records after a ten year waiting period. The law also allows people with criminal records to apply for sealing for up to as many as two convictions, one of which may be a non-class “A”/non-sex offense/non-violent felony, while those who have been convicted of more than two crimes or more than two felonies are ineligible. The effect of the statute is to render records of convictions unavailable to the public and remove the stigma of having a criminal record after an apparent and demonstrable period of rehabilitation.

While we have personally expressed that the sealing statute did not go as far as it should have in truly expunging the records of low-level offenders, the reality is that passage of CPL 160.59 was unprecedented for the state of New York and has constituted a much needed step in the right direction towards giving people who makes mistakes a much needed second chance. As the Daily News reports, less than 1% of the estimated 600,000 people considered to be eligible for sealing under CPL 160.59’s have taken the opportunity to petition the Courts for help, unfortunately. We would like this to change by creating awareness of the laws passage.

In short, unless you have been convicted of a violent felony or a sex crime, you should absolutely apply to seal your old conviction. Remember, ten years have to have passed since entry of the conviction you wish to seal. As far as we have seen, sealing has been granted in cases involving drug sale and possession, grand larceny, petit larceny, and even misdemeanor weapons cases, to name a few. But – a motion has to be filed in the Courthouse where the person was convicted since the law has no automatic effect on old convictions!

If you have a criminal conviction which is older than ten years, call us. We should be able to tell you very quickly, depending on the amount of information you have about the case, whether you are eligible for sealing. Once we’ve determined if you are eligible, we will walk you through the process of filing a formal motion in the Courts, and preparing for a possible hearing on your behalf.

If you have been convicted of any of the following offenses (just to name just a few) then you are likely eligible and should contact us about filing a sealing petition on your behalf:

  • Petit Larceny and Grand Larceny;
  • Forgery/Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument;
  • Misdemeanor or Felony Drug Possession/Sale;
  • Knife or non-firearm weapons possession;
  •  Assault in the Third Degree;
  • Obstructing Governmental Administration;
  • Resisting Arrest;
  • Criminal Mischief (or other property damage);
  • Making Graffiti, Possession of Graffiti Instruments or other crimes involving vandalism;

This list is obviously not exhaustive, but represents most of the offenses for which sealing has been granted upon proper motion to the Courts.

If you or a loved one would like help in sealing an old criminal conviction, you should contact us. CPL 160.59 is too important to be ignored. And spread the word – there are too many people out there who are deserving of a second chance who aren’t aware of/taking advantage of the law.