ALBANY – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that a provision in the state’s landmark Raise the Age law – allowing individuals who have remained crime-free for 10 years to request that certain New York State convictions be sealed – takes effect Saturday, Oct. 7.
The change is a result of Governor Cuomo’s ongoing efforts to eliminate unnecessary barriers to opportunity and employment that formally incarcerated individuals face and to improve the fairness and effectiveness of the state’s criminal justice system.
“Law-abiding New Yorkers should not be forever branded with the stigma of a non-violent criminal conviction when they have turned their lives around,” Governor Cuomo said. “This provision of the landmark Raise the Age law will help eligible people of all ages turn the page and increase public safety by helping to end the vicious cycle of recidivism once and for all.”
The new provision allows eligible individuals to petition the court to seal up to two misdemeanor convictions; one misdemeanor and one felony conviction; or one felony conviction.
To be eligible, an individual must have no convictions on their record for at least 10 years and have no charges pending. Individuals who were incarcerated may not apply until a decade following their release date.
Excluded from sealing are convictions for sex crimes or any offense requiring registration as a sex offender; child pornography; murder, manslaughter and other homicide charges; certain conspiracy charges; and any crime defined by law as a Class A or violent felony.
The seal applies to all public court records and those maintained by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. The repository for New York’s criminal history records; law enforcement records are excluded. Once sealed, convictions can only be provided under certain circumstances, including to state or federal law enforcement acting within the scope of their duties including for hiring purposes; and pistol permit licensing officials. Individuals and their attorneys also will have access to the information. Additional information is available here.
Individuals who believe they may be eligible for sealing under this law can visit www.nycourts.gov/forms for the forms and instructions needed to apply for sealing.
Upon receiving a sealing application, the sentencing court must notify the appropriate district attorney’s office to see if there is an objection.
If an objection is raised, the court must conduct a hearing to determine whether to seal the conviction or convictions.
New York State will raise the age of criminal responsibility in the state from 16 to 18 over the next two years. Juvenile jurisdiction for individuals who are 16 years old takes effect Oct. 1, 2018, and on Oct. 1, 2019 for 17-year-olds. The Raise the Age law and the sealing provision build upon Governor Cuomo’s efforts to improve the state’s criminal justice system and reduce barriers faced by people with criminal convictions.