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Pennsylvania Becomes First State to Automatically Seal Eligible Criminal Records

Pennsylvania has become the first state in the nation to automatically seal eligible criminal records – giving reformed ex-offenders throughout the state the opportunity for a second chance and removing barriers for employment, education and housing facing so many people with criminal records.

The Pennsylvania law, which went into effect on June 28th, is part of the “Clean Slate Bill” signed into law last year – and impacts up to 30 million criminal records that can now be automatically sealed. The law applies to people who have been found not guilty of a crime, who have had their charges dropped or who have committed non-violent crimes more than ten years ago. This automatic, computer-generated record sealing for certain types of crimes means that the vast majority of employers, landlords, schools, and occupational licensing agencies will no longer be able to access these records.

Although Pennsylvania was the first state to sign the Clean Slate legislation and have the law go into effect, measures are now being taken in other states – with Utah becoming the second state to approve legislation last year, and other states considering it. In addition, the issue of automatic sealing has been discussed on a federal level – with similar legislation to automatically clear certain federal records introduced in Congress last year.

Pennsylvania’s new policy surrounding automatic record sealing is an important development, and the concept of automatic sealing of certain criminal records continues to be something of great interest as we watch developments in other states and on the federal level. However, both here in New York and in other states throughout the country, the most important issue continues to be the fact that the great majority of those who may be eligible to have their criminal records sealed still aren’t coming forward to take the simple steps needed to have their records sealed and gain a clean slate. In fact, with recent numbers showing that less than 1% of the 600,000 ex-offenders in NY eligible to have their records sealed are actually coming forward to inquire about how to have their records sealed, the significant underutilization of the new criminal record sealing law in NY continues to be an issue that we are working to change – as we work to show people how we can help them navigate their way to securing a “second chance.” As a firm that not only played a major role in advocating for this change in New York state law surrounding criminal record sealing but which has helped many of those who have come forward so far to seal their records (in addition to securing the first criminal record sealing in Nassau County (and likely, in the entire state of New York) upon the law first being passed, we are in a unique position to assist those who can benefit from the life-changing benefits of having their criminal records sealed here in New York.

To learn more about the news surrounding Pennsylvania and automatic record sealing, click here. In addition, if you or someone you know is one of the estimated 600,000 ex-offenders in New York eligible to have their criminal records sealed or expunged, contact us today at 516-294-0300 or [email protected] to see how we can help you get a clean slate.

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