This law allows people who have been convicted of certain criminal offenses to seal their convictions. After a person’s convictions are sealed, the records of the sealed convictions will be kept confidential from most entities. Under New York State law, most employers and agencies cannot ask about or consider sealed convictions when making hiring and licensing decisions.
Under a recent New York State law (CPL § 160.59), some people may be able to get their criminal convictions sealed. Here’s what you should know about the new sealing law and the sealing process.
What is New York’s new sealing law (Criminal Procedure Law § 160.59)?
How do I know if I’m eligible to have my criminal convictions sealed?
You are eligible to seal your convictions under New York’s new sealing law if:
- You have only one or two criminal convictions. Youthful offender adjudications, juvenile delinquency adjudications, and non-criminal violations are NOT criminal convictions;
- You have no more than one felony conviction;
- You are not asking to seal an ineligible offense (see offenses listed below);
- You were not convicted of a crime after the latest conviction you want to seal;
- You have no open criminal cases;
- At least 10 years have passed since you were sentenced for your last criminal conviction and since you were last released from incarceration for a criminal conviction; and
- You are not required to register as a sex offender under New York law.
Which offenses are eligible to be sealed under the new sealing law?
Many criminal convictions can be sealed under the new law. However, convictions for the following crimes are ineligible and cannot be sealed under the new law:
- Sex offenses listed in Penal Law art. 130 and Penal Law art. 263
- Any other offenses requiring sex offender registration
- Homicide offenses listed in Penal Law art. 125
- All class A felonies
- Violent felonies defined in Penal Law § 70.02
- Felony conspiracy to commit one of the above felonies
- Felony attempt to commit one of the above felonies
- Federal convictions
- Out-of-state convictions
- Even if you have been convicted of one of these offenses, you may still be able to seal other eligible offenses if you meet the requirements listed above.
How do I apply to have my convictions sealed?
If you are only applying to seal one conviction, you should apply to the court where you were sentenced. If you are applying to seal two convictions, you should apply to the court in which you were convicted of the most serious offense or, if both convictions are the same classification of seriousness, to the court in which you were most recently convicted. You can fill out the application yourself. Click here for more information. Case Closed at The Legal Aid Society also provides assistance in filling out sealing applications. Our toll-free hotline is: 212-298-3120 and our email is .
What is the process once I file my application to seal my convictions?
If the district attorney objects, there will be a hearing on the application where the court will consider any evidence offered by either party. If the district attorney does not object, the court may rule on the application without a hearing. The court will consider any relevant factors, including:
- The amount of time that has elapsed since your last conviction;
- The circumstances and seriousness of the offense(s) you’re applying to seal, including whether the original arrest charge was an eligible offense;
- The circumstances and seriousness of any offense you’re not applying to seal;
- Your character, including any measures you have taken towards rehabilitation, such as participating in treatment programs, work, or schooling, and participating in community service or other volunteer programs;
- Any statements made by the victim of the offense for which you are seeking sealing;
- The impact of sealing your record on your rehabilitation and upon your successful and productive reentry and reintegration into society; and
- The impact of sealing your record on public safety and upon the public’s confidence and respect for the law.
- There is no set timeline for this process. After the sealing is granted, you must get an official copy of the sealing order from the court where you filed your sealing application. You should also submit the sealing verification form to the Division of Criminal Justice Services to ensure the record of conviction has been properly sealed.
Which employers and agencies are allowed to ask about my sealed convictions?
If the court approves your application, your sealed criminal convictions can only be reviewed by the following individuals and agencies:
- You (or your designated agent)
- Qualified agencies carrying out court and law enforcement duties (including probation, child protective services, police forces, medical examiners, immigration, and others)
- State or local officers or agencies when reviewing applications for firearm licenses
- Employers when you apply for a law enforcement job, including to become a police officer, peace officer, or for civilian employment at a police department
- FBI officials to run background checks on individuals buying or possessing firearms
The information in this document has been prepared by The Legal Aid Society for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. You should not act upon any information without retaining professional legal counsel.