If you only have eight or nine years behind you, it may be tempting to be discouraged and feel as if "there is nothing you can do" until ten years have gone by. The truth of the matter is, however, that given the complexity and depth of the motion required under Section 160.59, it actually makes sense to start prepping to make a motion to seal a conviction under Section 160.59 well in advance, even years in advance.
Get Help Making Sure that You Will Be in a Position to File the Best Motion You Can
Part of the reason it is helpful to prepare for a motion to seal under Section 160.59 well in advance is that the Judge who decides your motion is going to want to know how you have filled the previous ten years. See my article about what Section 160.59 requires the Judge to consider. What have you done? Have you done anything to suggest that you have taken steps to separate yourself from the incident or incidents that you are now trying to get sealed? If the answer is no, then this section of the motion is going to be mighty thin and your lawyer may be hard pressed to make up ground in other aspects of the motion. Your likelihood of success in convincing the Judge to seal your conviction will be diminished or destroyed.
So if you have a couple of years to go, then instead of thinking of it as two more years to wait, think of it as two full years to take steps to do things that will fill this section of your motion to seal with all sorts of wonderful things for the judge to find out about.
Your lawyer can help you develop a plan.
For our clients who choose to start the preparations for filing the motion early on, even before they are eligible to file the motion, we will sit down and develop a plan of action that will put them in a superior position to make a successful motion than if they simply waited to make the motion without preparation.
In each case it will be different of course, because each person is different with a different background and a different sort of problem to overcome. Have you contributed to the community in some way over the years? If so, how, and how often? Have you pursued educational goals? How far have you gotten? Have you addressed any addiction or other issues that contributed to the problem in the first place? Where? When? How? With years to go, it should not be a problem to gather the relevant information and proof without having to scramble at the last minute. Also, with years to go, if you have been less than diligent in certain areas where a Judge might expect you to have been more diligent, there is time to take the necessary steps in a reasonable way that a Judge will actually appreciate.
GET YOUR CRIMINAL HISTORY REPORT FROM NEW YORK STATE
Once the time to file begins to draw near, we will make sure our clients obtain a full UNSUPPRESSED Personal Record Review from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. This unsuppressed version of your criminal history report will reveal all contacts with the criminal justice system, including cases that have been sealed.
Of course as part of the process of filing the motion, the Court is going to require that an applicant for sealing be fingerprinted anyway. But I believe it is important to make sure that there will be no surprises when this is done. Everyone is entitled to order these records for themselves and it will make sure that there is nothing forgotten or remembered incorrectly about an applicant's past that will delay or even cause a denial of the motion.
Therefore, it makes sense to get this done in advance as one of the first steps toward making a motion to seal under Section 160.59.