Conditional Sealing under New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.58
By Don Murray, Esq., founding partner, Shalley and Murray
It is also possible in New York to get certain drug addiction related offenses "conditionally sealed" under very tightly controlled and limited circumstances. This path to sealing of criminal convictions in New York should not be confused with the new broader sealing provisions of Section 160.59 that are going into effect in October, 2017.
An important difference between conditional sealing and sealing under Section 160.59 is that the conditional sealing offered under Section 160.58 is conditional. That means that even if you get one or more eligible offenses sealed, if you ever get arrested in the future, all conditionally sealed convictions are immediately unsealed. If your case is ultimately favorably disposed of or if you settle the case with a non-criminal offense, your conditional sealing is restored. A conviction sealed under Section 160.59, however, is sealed forever.
Another difference is what might be considered a sort of unusual entry fee that would make you eligible for conditional sealing. In order to be eligible for conditional sealing, you must first participate in and successfully complete a judicially sanctioned drug treatment program. If you successfully complete such a program, the underlying case can be sealed. In addition, up to three prior misdemeanor offenses can also be sealed.
But realize what this means. This means that if you have three misdemeanor convictions and you never get arrested again, then those three misdemeanor convictions are yours forever and you have no path to sealing. (Even the new law under 160.59 will not help you because you have more than two convictions.) The entry fee to conditional sealing is that 1) You are arrested for a specific type of drug related offense and 2) You then complete a judicially sanctioned drug treatment program.
This means that a person who reoffends is in a way better off than someone who doesn't. Perhaps the legislature will remedy this peculiarity in the law some day.
The conditional sealing procedure requires the very thing that would disqualify you (at least temporarily) from getting anything sealed under the new sealing provisions - a new, recent arrest and no doubt about your guilt. Of course the motivations here are good. These rules were developed to help deal with the scourge of substance abuse.
But the sealing provisions under Section 160.59 are permanent and more broadly available than the conditional sealing available under Section 160.58.