Can you seal or expunge convictions in New York State?

November 7, 2017

We’ve all made mistakes.  Unfortunately, for some of you those mistakes resulted in a criminal conviction (or two), maybe when you were younger (and dumber), but they are STILL preventing you from getting that great job or promotion, or just getting on with your life!

You’ve been a model citizen for over a decade now. You’ve served your time and paid your price. Now it’s time to clean up that record and move on with your life. Unfortunately, New York does not allow convictions to be expunged (removed completely from your record); but as of October 2017, you can now seal up to 2 misdemeanors or 1 felony (sealing means the conviction is not visible to most employers and background searches).

NY Penal Law Section 160.59 says:

A defendant who has been convicted of up to two eligible offenses but not more than one felony may apply to the court in which he or she was convicted of the most serious offense to have such conviction sealed.

“Eligible offense” shall mean any crime in the laws of this stated other than a sex offense defined in Article 130 of the Penal Law, an offense defined in Article 263 of the Penal Law, a felony offense defined in Article 125 of the Penal Law, a violent felony offense defined in section 70.02 of the Penal Law, a class A felony defined in the Penal Law, a felony offense defined in Article 105 of the Penal Law where the underlying offense is not an eligible offense, an attempted to commit an offense that is not an eligible offense if the attempt is a felony, or an offense for which registration as a sex offender is required pursuant to Article 6-c of the Correction Law.

Any eligible offense may be sealed only after at least ten years have passed since the imposition of  the  sentence on the defendant’s latest  conviction, or, if the defendant was sentenced to a period of incarceration, including a period of incarceration imposed in conjunction with a sentence of probation, the defendant’s latest release from incarceration. In calculating the ten year period under this subdivision, any period of time the defendant spent incarcerated after the conviction for which the application for sealing is sought, shall be excluded and such ten year period shall be extended by a period or periods equal to the time served under such incarceration.

What that means in plain English is that, in order to even be considered for sealing:

1) You need to have 10 years conviction free under your belt;

  1.  It must have been at least 10 years since your most recent conviction, for anything;
  1. That 10 year period begins at the time of sentencing on the most recent conviction or your release date if sentenced to a period of incarceration; and
  1. The 10 year period will be extended by any period of incarceration since the most recent conviction;

2) You can only apply to seal “eligible offenses”;

  1. The following convictions are NOT eligible for sealing:
  1.       Any sex offense (click here for a list of Article 130 sex offenses);
  1.       Any offense involving the sexual performance by a child (click here for a list of Article 263 offenses);

                                                          iii.      Any homicide, abortion or related offense (click here for a list of Article 125 offenses);

  1.       Any violent felony offense (click here for a list of violent felony offenses);
  1.       Any class A felony (click here for a list of A-I felonies; click here for a list of A-II felonies);
  1.       Any Conspiracy offense where the underlying offense or conduct conspired to be committed is itself not an eligible offense (click here for a list of Article 105 offenses);

                                                        vii.      An attempt offense (Penal Law section 110.00) where the offense attempted is not itself an eligible offense (for example, Robbery 1st, because it is a violent felony offense) and the offense of attempt itself is a felony (for example, attempted Robbery 1st);


                                                      viii.      Any conviction that requires SORA registration (click here for a list of registerable offenses); and

3) You can only seal up to 2 eligible misdemeanors or 1 eligible felony.

In order to take advantage of this opportunity, you need to file a formal application with the court. It is highly recommended that you seek the services of an experienced attorney to assist you in this regard to ensure the highest probability of success and to eliminate unnecessary delays.  Carpenter Law PLLC is happy to discuss your case with you to determine if you are eligible and to explain how we can help.

If you have old convictions that are still causing problems for you, call Carpenter Law PLLC today at (845) 493-1002, or email at to schedule a free consultation!