Sealing of Criminal Convictions in New York
This policy provides individuals with a criminal conviction the opportunity to seal their record from view by potential employers, landlords, and other interested parties. Sealing a criminal conviction can have a significant impact on a person’s life, allowing them to pursue opportunities that may have otherwise been out of reach.
What is Sealing?
Sealing of criminal convictions in New York refers to a process where an individual’s criminal record is made inaccessible to the public. Essentially, sealing a criminal record means that a person’s criminal history cannot be accessed by potential employers or landlords who may conduct background checks. This may make it easier for individuals with a criminal record to find employment or housing without prejudice.
Sealing Vs. Expungement
Sealing of criminal records is often confused with expungement. However, there is a significant difference between the two. Expungement refers to a process where a person’s criminal record is destroyed, as if the crime never occurred. Once expunged, the record is permanently erased from existence. Sealing, on the other hand, simply makes the record inaccessible to the public. The record still exists, but it is hidden from view.
Who is Eligible for Sealing
In New York, not all criminal convictions are eligible for sealing. Only certain offenses are eligible for sealing, and there are specific requirements that must be met. Generally speaking, felony convictions cannot be sealed unless they were a non-violent offense. Some of the offenses that are eligible for sealing include:
· Non-violent misdemeanors
· Non-violent felonies
· Certain offenses committed while under the age of 21
· Note that sealing is not available for all misdemeanors or violations. For example, individuals who have been convicted of sex crimes, violent felonies, or DUI offenses are not eligible for sealing.
Additionally, there are various waiting periods that must be completed before a person is eligible for sealing. Depending on the offense, a person may be required to wait up to ten years after their conviction before they can apply.
The Application Process
Applying for sealing of a criminal record is a straightforward process, but it is not automatic. A person must apply for sealing; simply meeting the eligibility requirements does not mean that the criminal record will be automatically sealed. Here are the steps that someone would need to take to initiate the sealing process:
Determine eligibility: The first step is to make sure that the individual is eligible for sealing. As mentioned above, sealing is only available for non-violent felonies, misdemeanors, and violations.
Wait for the waiting period to expire: The next step is to wait for the waiting period to expire. As mentioned earlier, individuals with misdemeanor convictions must wait at least one year after their sentencing to begin the sealing process. For felony convictions, individuals must wait at least two years after their sentencing.
Get a Certificate of Disposition: To begin the sealing process, the individual must obtain a Certificate of Disposition, which is a document that shows the date of disposition (sentencing) and the type of conviction.
Start the sealing process: Once the waiting period has expired, the individual can begin the sealing process by filing a petition with the court that handled their case. The petition should include information about the individual, their conviction, and why they believe their record should be sealed.
Attend the hearing: After the petition is filed, the court will schedule a hearing. The individual must attend the hearing, where they will have the opportunity to present their case to the judge. The judge will consider several factors when deciding whether to grant the sealing, including the nature of the conviction, the individual’s character, and the impact that sealing will have on public safety.
Receive the order: If the judge grants the sealing, the individual will receive an order indicating that their record has been sealed. The individual can then provide the order to prospective employers, landlords
Benefits of Sealing
Sealing of criminal convictions can have numerous benefits for individuals who have been convicted of a crime. Some of the most significant benefits include:
· Increased Employment Opportunities: With a sealed criminal record, individuals may have an easier time finding employment. Many employers conduct background checks, and if an individual has a criminal record, it may be the deciding factor in whether they are hired. With a sealed criminal record, employers will not be able to access the individual’s criminal history, potentially increasing their chances of being hired.
· Housing Opportunities: Similar to employment opportunities, landlords may conduct background checks on potential tenants. If an individual has a criminal record, they may be denied housing based on their criminal history. Sealing of criminal convictions can make it easier for individuals to find suitable housing without being penalized for their past.
· Educational Opportunities: Certain educational programs may have strict requirements regarding a person’s criminal history. Sealing a criminal conviction may make it easier for individuals to enroll in educational programs that they may have otherwise been ineligible for.
· Restored Rights: In some cases, individuals with a criminal record may have lost certain rights, such as the right to vote or own firearms. Sealing of criminal convictions can help restore those rights.
Challenges of Sealing
While there are several benefits to sealing a criminal record, there are also some challenges that individuals may face. For example, while sealing a criminal record may make it easier to find employment or housing, it does not mean that a person’s criminal history is completely erased. Law enforcement agencies will still be able to view a person’s criminal record, even if it has been sealed.
Additionally, sealing a criminal record may not be a viable option for individuals with a history of violent crimes. In these cases, employers may still be hesitant to hire someone with a criminal record, even if it has been sealed.
The sealing of criminal convictions in New York is still a relatively new policy, and its impacts on society remain to be seen. There are concerns among some that the policy may make it easier for individuals with a criminal history to reoffend, as they may find it easier to access employment or housing. However, others argue that the policy is a crucial step forward in criminal justice reform, allowing individuals to move on from their past mistakes and lead productive lives.
Are You Looking For An Experienced Attorney? Contact The Law Office of Gina M. Wicik Today
Being a seasoned attorney, Gina M. Wicik may help you seal your criminal conviction in New York. As a result of years of experience, she knows what to expect and can come up with a solution that fits your problem.
As long as you have The Law Office of Gina M. Wicik on your side, you can rest easy, knowing your case is in the right hands. Call us at 516-253-4278 for a free consultation today!