Sealing Your Criminal Record in New York

Watch the following educational legal video by New York Criminal Defense Attorney Robert Aiello as he discusses sealing your criminal record in New York.

New legislation passed by the governor’s office this year will take effect in October of 2017, and it contains two critical components in the criminal area with which I am most concerned, I think these two components will be beneficial to our clients. The first one – which I consider a great initiative – is a new sealing provision within the criminal procedure law. This new provision will allow someone who made a mistake in their life more than 10 years ago – and has never had any other convictions, whether felony or misdemeanor – to have that conviction sealed. That is a tremendous thing because, when a person who’s been convicted of a felony – or even a misdemeanor – applies for a job, they have to fill out an application. When that application asks the question, “Have you ever been convicted of any crime?” they have to answer truthfully. If they lie and are later found out, they’re done. Instead, answer truthfully, yes. Then, when they ask, “What was it for? Felony or misdemeanor?” you must answer that truthfully as well.

Here’s the reality. In today’s competitive workplace, if you’ve been convicted of a crime – whether it was a misdemeanor or a felony – and you’re competing against applicants who’ve never been convicted of a crime, you probably won’t get that job. I think the governor has recognized that many first-time offenders have been unfairly stigmatized and discriminated against based on one mistake made when they were 20 or 21 years old, and that mistake has saddled them with a conviction that affects their entire adult life.

I think that new law will offer one-time offenders an opportunity to go back and seal that conviction. We’re excited about that. We’ve been sending letters out to our clients encouraging them to contact us because we want to represent people by going before the courts and getting their cases sealed so they can move forward with their lives instead of being discriminated against. The law also prevents employers of those with sealed convictions from using them in any way to discriminate. In fact, they won’t be able to use it anymore because it will be sealed and they won’t even know about it. They’ll never be able to find out about it, and that’s a great thing.

The other thing the governor did, from which I hope to see a very positive impact in terms of the criminal justice system as it relates to young, first-time offenders who are 15, 16, and 17-years-old. Up to now, 16- and 17-year-olds have been treated as adults and being sent to the adult criminal court. For a long time, many of us have felt that a 16- or 17-year-old who makes a single mistake should not be prosecuted as if he were an adult because, most often, he doesn’t have the judgment or maturity to even realize the potential impact of what he’s done. This new legislation states that if a 16- or 17-year-old commits a misdemeanor or non-violent felony offense, that case will no longer be tried in criminal court; instead, it will be addressed in family court.

As a result of having his case treated in family court, once the case is over, that young person will not have any kind of criminal record. These 16- and 17-year-old kids who’ve been saddled with convictions that followed them for the rest of their lives will now have their cases treated in family court. They will no longer have that problem and the stigma associated with it. We’re encouraged by that. We think that’s a great development.

As a result of this new legislation, I’m sure my associate will be busier because, up to now, she didn’t handle many criminal cases. Going forward, the 16- and 17-year-olds Deveraux and I would have represented in criminal court will go to family court, and Jennifer will represent them. I think family court is the right place for these matters because they can provide these young kids with services designed to get them on the right road, so they become productive, law abiding citizens, and that benefits all of us.

Robert J. Aiello is a principal and founding member of the law firm and a trial attorney.  His practice is devoted primarily to criminal defense in State and Federal Courts. Mr. Aiello has been involved in many high-profile cases throughout his career. Contact us at our Maspeth, Queens office today to schedule a free and confidential consultation with experienced New York criminal defense attorney Robert Aiello.

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