LOOKING TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT?
Until a short time ago, the right to seal criminal records in New York was very limited, and unlike other states, New York does not allow you to expunge (permanently erase) your criminal history. As of October 7, 2017, however, a new law provides candidates with eligible convictions the ability to apply for permanent sealing.
The sealing of a Felony or even Misdemeanor Conviction can lift the shadow of shame, and legal restrictions that follow the convicted party for many years.
Not everyone will be able to take advantage of this new law, however, to be eligible, you must be as follows.
- Crime free for at least 10 years since your conviction and/or release from incarceration, whichever is later. This means that the 10 years runs from your release from jail or prison, not the date you were sentenced.
- Have no more than two convictions on your record. This means two (2) misdemeanors or one (1) felony and one (1) misdemeanor.
- If you are convicted of multiple offense arising out of the same criminal event, the court may decide to treat the multiple convictions as one (1) conviction.
- Not previously had two (2) convictions sealed.
- The convictions cannot be for:
- A sex offense defined in Article 130 of the NYS Penal Law;
- Sexual Performance By a Child in violation of Article 263 of the NYS Penal Law;
- A Homicide related conviction in violation of Article 125 of the NYS Penal Law;
- A violent felony offense as defined by NYS Penal Law Section 70.02;
- Any Class A felony;
- A felony offense in violation of Article 105 of the NYS Penal Law where the underlying offense is one of the excluded offenses mentioned above;
- An attempt to commit an excluded offense, if the attempt itself is a felony level crime;
- An offense for which registration as a sex offender is required pursuant to Article 6-C of the NYS Correction Law.
A criminal conviction very often affects your ability to obtain or keep employment, obtain student loans, maintain immigration status, find and keep housing, receive public benefits, and in the case of a felony, negatively impacts your ability to vote, serve on a jury, or serve as an executor of a probate estate.
The decision on whether to seal is ultimately at the discretion of the sentencing judge who will consider factors such as the amount of time elapsed, the nature of the crime, efforts at rehabilitation, opinion of the victim, opinion of the District Attorney, the effect the sealing will have on the defendant’s future, and the risk, if any, to public safety from the sealing. If necessary, a hearing will be conducted before final determination is made.
Certificate of Relief from Disabilities *
A Certificate of Relief from Disabilities (CRD) is a way to remove certain Collateral Consequences of a criminal conviction. Having the CRD can remove bars to applying for jobs, licenses, public housing and more. If you apply for and receive a CRD, you will have the right to apply just like someone without a conviction. But, having a CRD is not a guarantee that your application will be granted. And, even if you have a CRD, you still have to say that you have a criminal conviction when you fill out a job application.
You are eligible to get a CRD if you have been convicted of any number of misdemeanors or violations, but have not been convicted of more than 1 felony (2 or more felony convictions in the same court on the same day are counted as 1 felony for the CRD). If you have been convicted of 2 or more felonies (not at the same time), or if you want to apply for a public office job, you can’t apply for a CRD, but you may be able to get a Certificate of Good Conduct. You need a separate CRD for each conviction.
* Does not refer to a physical or mental disability but rather a legal disability imposed by statute.
Certificate of Good Conduct
A Certificate of Good Conduct (CGC) gives you a legal finding that you are reformed after a conviction. The CGC removes some of the Collateral Consequences of a criminal conviction. The CGC allows you to apply for certain jobs, licenses, public office, housing or other rights that you lost when you were convicted. But, having a CGC is not a guarantee that your application will be granted. And, even if you have a CGC, you still have to say that you have a criminal conviction when you fill out a job application.
You are eligible to apply for a CGC if you have been convicted of 2 or more separate felonies, or if you want a job that is a Public Office (for public office jobs it doesn’t matter how many convictions you have, you need a CGC). When counting felony convictions, federal and out-of-state charges count too. One CGC will cover all your felony and misdemeanor convictions.
When to Apply
You must wait before you can apply for a CGC. You must show that you have completed a period of good conduct in the community:
- If you have been convicted of an A or B felony, you must wait 5 years before getting a CGC;
- If your most serious conviction is a C, D or E felony, you must wait 3 years before getting a CGC;
- If you have only been convicted of misdemeanors, you must wait 1 year before getting a CGC.
The waiting period starts from the last time you got out of prison (onto parole or maxed out) or the date of your last conviction, if you didn’t get state prison time, whichever was last.
Are you being negatively affected by your past criminal conviction(s)? If you are, and if you want to attempt to do something about it, please reach out to Pascazi Law Offices PLLC. We are here to help. Attorney Michael S. Pascazi was a judicial intern in a Felony Court, and “knows the ropes” from both the Bench and Bar.
We offer a free initial telephone strategy session, so give a call now. What are you waiting for?