Frequently Asked Questions about Criminal Procedure Law §160.59

What is New York’s new sealing law, Criminal Procedure Law 160.59?

New York’s new sealing law, CPL 160.59, allows people who have been convicted in no more than two cases (only one of which can be a felony case) to apply to seal certain conviction(s) from New York, if it has been at least 10 years since their sentencing or release from jail or prison. Only certain convictions are eligible for sealing, and there are other requirements as well. (See eligibility below.)

Who is eligible to apply for sealing under the new law?

You may be eligible if: at least 10 years have passed since you were sentenced (not counting time served in jail or prison) AND:

  • You only have 1 or 2 criminal convictions total. (If you have more than one conviction that was “committed as part of the same criminal transaction,” that counts as a single conviction.)
  • Only 1 of those convictions is a felony.

Convictions for the following crimes are not eligible to be sealed:

  • Sex offense defined in Penal Law Article 130
  • Offense requiring registration as a sex offender
  • Sexual performance by a child defined in Penal Law Article 263
  • Class A felony
  • Violent felony defined in Penal Law § 70.02
  • Felony conspiracy to commit an ineligible offense
  • Felony attempt to commit an ineligible offense

NOTE: Other factors may affect eligibility. For more information, you can call the Legal Action Center at (212) 243-1313. 

How do I apply?

To apply for sealing under the new law, you must file a motion with the court where you were convicted. You must also serve a copy to the District Attorney. The judge and District Attorney will then make a decision based on your motion, or they can require a hearing to further inform their decision.

Forms and instructions for applying under the new law can be found here: http://www.nycourts.gov/FORMS/cpl_160.59_sealing_application/index.shtml

Once my convictions are sealed, who may see or ask about them?

If your application for sealing is approved, your records will generally be sealed and not made available. Most employers will not be allowed to ask about or consider your sealed convictions.

Only the following people or agencies will be able to see your sealed record:

  • You (or someone you choose)
  • Agencies carrying out law enforcement duties (including district attorneys’ offices, probation departments, and child protective services)
  • Most employers will not see records, UNLESS you apply for a job as a police or peace officer
  • If you apply for a gun license, the agencies who review your application, and the FBI when it runs a background check if you attempt to purchase or possess a gun.

A conviction sealed under this section is still considered a conviction in a future criminal case where a prior conviction enhances a penalty or is an element of the offense charged. 

What if I’m not sure what’s on my record?

You can get a copy of your New York State RAP sheet. Visit the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) website for more information, or call the Legal Action Center at (212) 243-1313 to see if your income qualifies you for our free RAP sheet services.

For more information, call the Legal Action Center at (212) 243-1313 or visit www.lac.org.

These FAQs are general information only, not legal advice for your specific situation. 

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