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Gov. Hochul signs Clean Slate Act, allowing certain criminal records to be sealed

Law takes effect in one year

By: Bennett Loudon//November 16, 2023

Gov. Hochul signs Clean Slate Act, allowing certain criminal records to be sealed

Law takes effect in one year

By: Bennett Loudon//November 16, 2023//

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Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday signed the Clean Slate Act, which allows certain criminal records to be sealed years after an individual completes their sentence and is not subsequently convicted of an additional criminal act.

Following release from any incarceration, records of individuals with eligible misdemeanor convictions will be sealed after three years and those with certain felony convictions, after eight years.

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 state Education Department, the courts and other groups will continue to have access to all criminal records under the law.

“The best crime-fighting tool is a good-paying job. That’s why I support giving New Yorkers a clean slate after they’ve paid their debt to society and gone years without an additional offense,” Hochul said in a news release.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said the Clean Slate Act “will give millions of New Yorkers who served their time the opportunity to begin a new chapter of their lives.”

New York will be the 12th state to enact clean slate legislation.

Richard Lewis, president of the New York State Bar Association, called the signing of the legislation “a monumental day for equal treatment in New York.”

“The law now recognizes that offenders who have paid their debt to society should not be permanently marked by their past mistakes. The New York State Bar Association has long advocated for the passage of this bill as a matter of fairness, and we are pleased to finally see it come to fruition,” Lewis said.

State Division of Criminal Justice Services Commissioner Rossana Rosado said, the Clean Slate Act will help reduce recidivism by ensuring that people who have served their sentences can access educational opportunities, jobs, and housing.

The Clean Slate Act takes effect in one year. It provides the New York State Office of Court Administration up to three years from that date to implement the processes necessary to identify and seal all eligible records.

Employers permitted by law to perform fingerprint-based criminal history checks on job applicants will continue to receive those records and use them to determine whether individuals should be hired.

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 licenses.

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