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Law Allowing New Yorkers to Seal Their Criminal Records Goes Into Effect

Beginning on October 7th, Tens of Thousands of People Can Seal Their New York Criminal Records and Move Forward with a Clean Slate    

Beginning on October 7th, people who have long been suffering the negative consequences of a long-ago New York criminal conviction on their record will finally have the opportunity to have their criminal records sealed.  A new law, passed on April 12th, will officially be going into effect throughout New York State — giving tens of thousands of New Yorkers and former New Yorkers the opportunity to seal their criminal records, wipe the slate clean – and gain a fresh start in life.

Before this law passed, a criminal conviction in New York remained on a person’s record for life, and would appear as part of any civil background check.  Under the new law, many crimes are eligible for record sealing, including most misdemeanor and many felony convictions.  A sealed record means the conviction cannot be made available to the public, and will not appear as part of a civil background check.  Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) convictions are eligible for sealing.  Sex offenses, homicides, and other violent felonies are among the crimes that are ineligible for sealing. 

            “There are so many New Yorkers who have been living with the stigma of a long-ago conviction on their record, who have faced countless roadblocks in finding or changing jobs, securing housing or moving forward in their education,” says attorney Rick Collins, Founding Partner at Collins Gann McCloskey& Barry and co-chairman of the NY State Bar Association Criminal Justice Section Sealing Committee, who also served as co-author of the committee’s Report and Recommendations to conditionally seal certain low-level criminal convictions in NY.  “Upon news of the law passing in April, we immediately began hearing from so many people whose lives have been negatively impacted for so long due to a mistake they made many years ago.  They are relieved that they will finally now be able to seal their criminal records and have an opportunity for a second chance in life, without a past criminal conviction holding them back.”  Collins, who also served on a New York State Bar Association Special Committee created to examine problems that formerly incarcerated individuals face upon release from prison or jail and the kind of services needed to help them lead productive lives, has been advocating for this change in state law for nearly a decade and played an instrumental role in making criminal record sealing a reality in New York.

The new law permits two eligible offenses to be sealed, but not more than one eligible felony offense. In addition, a person with two or more felony convictions will also be ineligible to apply for record sealing.  To qualify, ten years must have passed since the imposition of sentence or completion of sentence on the most recent conviction.  An applicant also cannot have any pending charges or have any criminal convictions within the preceding 10 years.  Upon the granting of a sealing motion, the conviction would still be made available to certain law enforcement agencies, including local agencies responsible for the issuance of gun permits.

For more information about criminal record sealing in New York, including specific eligibility criteria and how to move forward in having a criminal record sealed, visit www.newyorksealinglaw.com, or call 516-294-0300.

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