How New York’s New Clean Slate Act Could Help You

Jan 15, 2024

Recently, the New York Governor signed the Clean Slate Act into law. This success is good news for many New York residents with a criminal record. Interested parties can expect the law to take effect in November 2024.

Once it takes effect, those with criminal records may find significant improvements in their job and housing opportunities. The Clean Slate Act would help people with a criminal record reintegrate into society more quickly while considering public safety. It does so by automatically sealing eligible criminal records. However, it applies only to individuals who have not committed crimes during the required waiting period. 

The Clean Slate Act will seal your eligible misdemeanor conviction if you have not faced another sentence for three years after the initial conviction or release from incarceration. It also automatically seals certain felony convictions. However, the waiting period is eight years after the initial conviction or release from incarceration. During this time, you cannot accrue any new criminal convictions, regardless of whether it is a felony.

Interested individuals must understand that New York’s Clean Slate Act will not seal all crimes. For example, it explicitly lists serious crimes, such as sex crimes or murder, as ineligible. All eligible records expunged by the Act should no longer appear in public court indexes. However, most employers and landlords should not have access to it. 

Of course, there are exceptions to this law. For example, law enforcement officers can see the records when processing individuals’ applications for firearms. Other exceptions include prosecutors or courts. They may access these files as part of a new case. Finally, employers required to conduct fingerprint-based background checks may acquire the sealed information.

According to the governor, the Clean Slate Act intended to do more than improve public safety. She also explained that it would improve economic growth. As such, she supports giving people a clean slate once they have paid their debt to society and not re-offended for years. She believes a good-paying job is the best way to fight crime.

The Clean Slate Act will take effect later in 2024. If you have eligible convictions, you may see them expunged at the end of the year. This automatic sealing can significantly improve your ability to obtain work or housing. However, your records will remain visible to the public, such as employers and landlords, until then. While you wait, consider running a self-check to review the information they will see.

Background checks don’t have to be complicated. Try running a self background check today and give yourself a head start.