Yesterday, Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law The Clean Slate Act (S.7551A/A.1029C) with an effective date of November 16, 2024. The law will seal certain criminal records following an individual’s release from incarceration: eligible misdemeanor convictions will be sealed three years after release, and eligible felony convictions will be sealed eight years after release – on the condition that the individual convicted of the offense has not committed an additional crime in the intervening period.
The Clean Slate Act will not seal the records of individuals convicted of sex crimes, murder, or other non-drug Class A felonies. Law enforcement, prosecutors, the New York State Education Department, the courts, and certain other groups will continue to have access to all criminal records under the law.
New York became the 12th state in the nation to sign Clean Slate legislation, joining New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and others.
Statistics show that a criminal record makes finding new employment significantly more difficult. The Clean Slate Act is designed to provide a second chance to individuals who have paid their debt to society, enabling them to restart their lives and become positive contributors to their communities.
Conviction information will remain available for law enforcement purposes, the hiring of police and peace officers, the hiring of teachers at public and private schools, and background checks for firearm purchases and/or licenses.
A recent study published by the Brennan Center for Justice shows that prior to the passage of The Clean Slate Act, New York has been missing out on $12.6 billion in annual economic activity – the total cost of lost wages each year due to the reduced earnings of individuals with unsealed records; nationwide, the cost to GDP is approximately $87 billion each year.
The law provides the New York State Office of Court Administration up to three years from the law’s effective date to implement the processes necessary to identify and seal all eligible records.
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