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Criminal Record Sealing Initiatives Continue to Move Forward Nationwide

– With Criminal Record Sealing Still Underutilized Throughout the Country, California is the First State in the Country to Introduce a New Bill Calling for Automatic Record Sealing –

Although deserving ex-offenders now have the ability to seal their criminal records in many states throughout the country – including in New York, where criminal record sealing became a reality in 2017 – sealing is still being underutilized nationwide. Recent attention has been drawn to the fact that in New York, less than 1% of ex-offenders have taken advantage of the new sealing law – leading to new efforts to build greater awareness of the new sealing law in New York, with the goal of reaching the hundreds of thousands of people who are eligible to have their records sealed. However, underutilization of criminal record sealing is not only an issue in New York, but is happening throughout the country – including in California, where a recent New York Times article has highlighted that only about 20 percent of those eligible to get their records sealed actually do so – and where a new bill has just been introduced calling for “automatic record sealing.”

While the idea of automatic record sealing is a concept of legislative interest and this California bill is an important development in the area of criminal record sealing, there is a bigger, and more immediate, issue that remains: creating greater awareness of the current ability for eligible ex-offenders throughout the country to be able to seal their criminal records and gain a clean slate. This is particularly relevant in New York – which has not even scratched the surface in being able to help the hundreds of thousands of eligible ex-offenders out there who still may not know about their opportunity for a fresh start. The numbers here in New York remain startling: with more than 600,000 ex-offenders eligible to have their criminal records sealed, having less than 1% take advantage of sealing their records highlights the tremendous underutilization of the new criminal record sealing law – and something that we are hoping to change by helping ex-offenders in New York navigate their way through the legal system to seal their records. 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.

To read about this latest development in California and the introduction of the new bill making its way through California state legislature seeking automatically sealing the records of those with misdemeanors/lower level felonies once a person completes their prison sentence, click https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/11/us/california-criminal-records-bill.html. In addition, 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 their criminal records sealed or expunged, call us anytime at 516-294-0300, or email us at [email protected].

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