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Defendant Asks to Seal Prior Convictions


It is no secret that people make mistakes when they are young. It is not unreasonable to offer a second chance to those who are able to mature past their youthful indiscretions. The Rockefeller Drug Law reforms were created as a means to offer second chances to those offenders who were addicted to illegal drugs and were arrested. It requires that they submit themselves to an in-house drug treatment program while they are incarcerated, and that they successfully complete the program. These drug reform laws are directed at addicts who are encouraged to fight their addiction and become functioning members of society through intervention. These laws are not intended to provide a person who is not an addict, but who was a trafficker of narcotics a means to have their narcotics felony charges sealed.

However, on May 17, 2011, a man who was arrested in 1999 for trafficking in heroin (heroin possession) prepared a motion to the court that would allow him to have his record sealed. He stated that his felony narcotics trafficking conviction was preventing him from obtaining gainful employment. He presented transcripts from a six month drug treatment program that he enrolled himself in when he was on parole. He demonstrated that he has matured by presenting to the court, documents showing that he has successfully completed that program. He also presented several documents to the court that showed that he has completed all of the requirements to be a commercial pilot, but states that the 1999 narcotics conviction is preventing him from obtaining employment. He requests that the court seal his conviction under the drug reform laws. The court reviewed his request and had several matters that created resistance.

First, the drug treatment program that he registered for was only six months. Additionally, it was not a sanctioned program and he did not participate in it while he was under the supervision of the department of corrections. Further, the drug reform laws are directed at giving a second chance to addicts who have won their fights against their drug addiction. In this case, the defendant was not an addict. He was arrested during a heroin sale in which he contends that he was only acting as a body guard for his brothers who were the ones who were actually selling the narcotics. The court further points out that the Rockefeller laws are not intended to provide relief for felony narcotics traffickers. This case demonstrates the situation in which a man was convicted of felony narcotics trafficking eleven years ago. He is haunted by the fact that he is a convicted felon and must accept that label for the rest of his life. There are many privileges in life afforded to a person who is not a convicted felon. Once, those privileges have been taken away because of a felony drug conviction, they are noticed. Convicted felons cannot possess a firearm (possession of a weapon). Convicted felons cannot vote. Convicted felons may be searched and they have no right to privacy from their parole officers. In this case, the defendant contends that he was not actively involved in the sale of the heroin.

However, whether the heroin transaction was conducted by him, or he complacently observed as a bodyguard, he was tried and convicted of the offense. He was not an addict at the time of the offense or later. The benefits of a drug treatment program for an offender who is not an addict would be negligible. He was present at the drug deal because he wanted to make a profit off of the addicts that are protected by the drug reform laws. To allow him to seal his records as if he were one of his victims would be a travesty of justice. The courts denied his motion to seal his convictions.

At Stephen Bilkis & Associates, their Bronx criminal lawyers are available in several convenient offices located throughout New York and the Bronx area. Our Bronx drug crime Attorneys will fight for you in the event that you need representation.

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