Recently, New York lawmakers increased the age of criminal responsibility to 18. While this proposal received significant media coverage, a lesser-known part of that bill may nonetheless have greater ramifications, particularly for people who have criminal convictions stemming from when they were young.
Tied to the passage of this bill was a measure that will allow people with eligible convictions to seal their record, meaning that the convictions will no longer be found in background checks. The change was included in the New York state budget for 2017. While similar proposals have been floating around the state legislature for years, it was only with the momentum of raising the age of criminal responsibility that this proposal had the votes to pass.
Expungement and record-sealing provide a significant benefit for people who have previous convictions on their record. A conviction can affect everything from student loan eligibility to job prospects and housing opportunities.
Can I get my criminal record sealed?
New York state law will now allow people who have not been arrested or convicted of a crime in the past ten years to seal up to two previous misdemeanor convictions and one previous felony conviction.
Sex crimes, violent crimes and other convictions will not be included. However, the benefit could be significant for people with a DUI, drug possession or other crime on their record finally be able to move past their criminal conviction.
The law is still new, so New York is not accepting applications to seal records just yet. Once they do so, the application and sealing process must occur within the jurisdiction in which the applicant was convicted. In addition, both the victim (if applicable) and the judge will be able to weigh in on whether it is sealed.
The judge will have discretion on whether to seal the record based on individual circumstances of the request. This means applicants must be careful to meet eligibility requirements. If you have questions about record-sealing, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.