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350 People with Misdemeanor Marijuana Convictions Have Records Sealed in Unprecedented Class-Action Settlement in New York

In an unprecedented first step in New York that may impact thousands more people, 350 people with low-level misdemeanor marijuana convictions in Manhattan will now have their criminal records sealed, as a result of a new class action settlement announced on Monday.  The order to seal the records for these misdemeanor marijuana crimes in New York is the result of a class action petition brought forth by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, The Legal Aid Society, New York County Defender Services and other law groups, to seal the criminal records of some marijuana offenses — including smoking in public or possession of less than 25 grams.  The precedent-setting settlement was approved by a State Supreme Court judge last month, and the records of 350 individuals are now in the process of being sealed in Manhattan Criminal Court.

As “an unprecedented first step in New York that could result in additional class-action cases, potentially affecting thousands of people” the settlement could lead to similar criminal convictions being sealed in other boroughs and across the state.  Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has said that he is considering applying the precedent set by the case to other people who are eligible to have convictions sealed from their records.

This class-action settlement and the sealing of these 350 records for low-level marijuana crimes is an important development in criminal record sealing in New York – which continues to be underutilized since the new criminal record sealing law went into effect in 2017.  Statistics indicate that out of the estimated 600,000 individuals who are eligible to have their records sealed, only 1,200 have taken advantage of the new law so far and have had their records wiped clean – with hundreds of thousands of eligible ex-offenders likely still unaware of this opportunity to clear their criminal records and gain a fresh start, or unable to navigate the system on their own in order to start the process.  This class-action settlement is an important step in generating greater awareness of the impact that sealing a criminal record can have in giving someone a true “second chance” – as these 350 individuals will now no longer have the barrier of an old criminal conviction on their record which can impact their opportunities when it comes to employment, housing and education.

Our firm is proud to not only have played an instrumental role in helping to get the criminal record sealing law in New York passed, but to have helped many of those who have come forward so far to seal their records – as well as having secured the first criminal record sealing in Nassau County (and possibly New York State) upon the law first being passed.  With proven experience in this area, our attorneys can help individuals who may be eligible to have their criminal records sealed in New York navigate the legal system in order to gain that all-important fresh start in life with a clean slate.  To learn more about the legal process of criminal record sealing in New York, and to see if you or someone you know may be eligible to have a criminal record sealed or expunged, call us anytime at 516-294-0300, or email us at [email protected].

Read more about the precedent-setting class-action settlement surrounding criminal record sealing in New York:



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