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Clear Your Record

People make mistakes and when life happens, most people deserve another chance to bounce back, a sentiment that is embraced in New York Law – society welcomes back all but the worst criminal offenders, but this process is best journeyed with an experienced New York expungement lawyer dedicated to ensuring the collateral damage of a conviction should not haunt you for life.

No one believes more in redemption than someone who has experience on both sides of the courtroom. As a former Broome County Assistant District Attorney, Chris Brown has had an imprint in many convictions of offenders whose crimes were an aberration of their true character.

This is especially true when substance abuse rears its ugly head and leads some to commit property and other crimes to feed an addiction. We noted in this blog that the criminal justice system increasingly views drug addiction as a disease and Chris Brown routinely advocates for treatment and alternatives to incarceration. 

 
A productive discussion is taking place in New York and parliaments nationwide on solutions to the drug problem and we, for one, are encouraged that there is some recognition of failures caused by the war on drugs.
 

 

When good people do bad things and a criminal record holds them back, Chris Brown Law may be able to help seal certain adult convictions, if the offender is able to demonstrate his or her “deservingness” of the sealing relief.
 
 

 

Fresh start - Expunging or sealing criminal records in New York
 
This culture of amnesty is codified in § 160.59 of New York’s Criminal Procedure Law, a statute that gives New York one of the most expansive record-closing authorities in the country. Courts now have the discretion to seal up to two convictions (of which only one may be a felony) for crimes other than violent felonies, sex crimes and class A felonies after a 10-year waiting period from the date of the offender’s conviction or release from prison. 

The philosophy of Chris Brown Law is that no life should be defined by a momentary lapse in judgement.

This means that New York allows you to petition to have your criminal record hidden from public view. Importantly, the New York Human Rights Law has been amended to prohibit public and private employers and occupational licensing agencies from inquiring about or denying employment or licensures based on a sealed conviction.
 
The FBI and state entities tasked with issuing firearm licenses will still be able to obtain information on sealed convictions, as will other “qualified agencies,” and sealed convictions will remain “convictions” for the purpose of sentence enhancement or establishing the elements of a crime. Law enforcement fingerprint records will remain intact, unaffected by the sealing order, and so while there are many exceptions to the law, it is on balance great news for offenders eligible for relief and consistent with Chris Brown Law’s philosophy that no life should be defined by a momentary lapse in judgment. 

 

How the application process works

Under New York Criminal Procedure Law, the application is to made to the court where the conviction for the most serious offense sought to be sealed occurred, or to the court where the individual was last convicted if all offenses for which sealing is sought are of the same class.

Chris Brown Law will help navigate this process, which requires, among other things, a sworn statement of reasons why sealing should be granted. If the objective is to seal a single conviction, it will be assigned to the sentencing judge, and to the Supreme Court otherwise. The District Attorney must be served and has a 45-day window to review the application and if no objections are made, the court may decide the application without a hearing.

Factors for the Court to consider

The Court’s decision to clean up your criminal history is purely discretionary, and Chris Brown will work with you to present your case in the most favorable light. N.Y.Crim. Proc. Sec. 160.59(7) prescribes the relevant factors the sentencing judge or Supreme Court shall consider in considering your applications. These include:

(a)  the amount of time that has elapsed since the defendant’s last conviction;
(b) the circumstances and seriousness of the offense for which the defendant is seeking relief, including whether the arrest charge was not an eligible offense;
(c)  the circumstances and seriousness of any other offenses for which the defendant stands convicted;
(d) the character of the defendant, including any measures that the defendant has taken toward rehabilitation, such as participating in treatment programs, work, or schooling, and participating in community service or other volunteer programs;
(e)  any statements made by the victim of the offense for which the defendant is seeking relief;
(f) the impact of sealing the defendant’s record upon his or her rehabilitation and upon his or her successful and productive reentry and reintegration into society; and
(g)  the impact of sealing the defendant’s record on public safety and upon the public’s confidence in and respect for the law.

This list is not exhaustive, but Chris Brown Law will provide a narrative that maximizes your chances of starting a clean slate.

If you cannot get your criminal record sealed, all is not lost

When a prior conviction or criminal record cannot be sealed, consider applying for a certificate of rehabilitation to retain employability and restore lost civil rights in the state. Certificates of rehabilitation are available in two forms: Certificate of Relief from Disabilities (and forfeitures) and a Certificate of Good Conduct. We will cover these creatures in this post.

To determine whether you are eligible for any number of forms of relief, please consult with Chris Brown Law.