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.