New York State’s Clean Slate Law
December 4th, 2023 | Chris Christian, Director of Compliance
In July 2023, Sterling communicated that the New York Senate and Assembly had passed a clean slate law, Assembly Bill 1029C (A1029C) which amends existing state law as it relates to the automatic sealing of certain criminal conviction records. The bill was sent to the Governor for signature and has now been signed.
As an update to that previous communication, on November 16th, 2023 New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed Assembly Bill 1029C (A1029C). The New York law is commonly known as a “Clean Slate” law, which refers to a legislative policy model designed to provide relief for individuals with criminal record history, allowing them to have their criminal records expunged or sealed from public record systems. The main purpose of these laws is to eliminate barriers to employment and housing, restore civil rights, and provide opportunities to help those eligible for criminal record relief. The new law will be effective one year after its signing (November 16, 2024).
What Does the New Law Cover?
The new law automatically seals certain traffic infractions or crimes after a specific period has passed related to each type of record:
- Certain convictions of the vehicle and traffic law will be sealed after three years.
- Misdemeanor convictions, if at least three years have passed from the defendant’s release from incarceration or the imposition of sentence if there was no sentence of incarceration.
- Felony convictions, if at least eight years have passed from the defendant’s release from incarceration or the imposition of sentence if there was no sentence of incarceration.
The new law also provides for certain conditions to be met for a conviction record to quality for automatic sealing. In those instances, the following conditions must apply:
- The defendant does not have a subsequent criminal charge pending in the state.
- The defendant is not currently under the supervision of any probation or parole department for the conviction eligible for sealing.
- The conviction is not for an offense defined as a sex offense or sexually violent offense under section one hundred sixty-eight-a of the correction law.
- The conviction is not for a class A felony offense defined in the penal law, other than class A felony offenses defined in article two hundred twenty of the penal law.
- The defendant is a natural person.
- The defendant does not have a subsequent felony charge pending in another jurisdiction that is not a felony charge related to reproductive or gender affirming care or the possession of cannabis which would not constitute a felony in New York.
- The defendant does not have a subsequent felony conviction in another jurisdiction in the preceding eight years that is not a felony conviction related to reproductive or gender affirming care or the possession of cannabis which would not constitute a felony in New York.
Conviction records sealed must not be accessed by or made available to any person or public or private agency. However, the law provides for exemptions to access to sealed records. A few exemptions are listed here:
- Any court, defense counsel or prosecutor for the purposes of a pending criminal proceeding or proceedings brought in a criminal court.
- Individuals or entities that are required by a local, state, or a federal law or regulation to request and receive a fingerprint-based check of criminal history information.
- The commissioner of education or the office of school personnel review and accountability from receiving or using convictions sealed for purposes of applicable educational laws.
- Individuals or entities that are required by a local, state, or a federal law or regulation to request and receive a fingerprint-based check of criminal history information in relation to the individual’s fitness to have responsibility for the safety and well-being of children or adolescents, elderly individuals, individuals with disabilities, or otherwise vulnerable populations.
- Transportation network companies that are required or authorized by state law to request criminal history information.
Implementation of Law
The law states that the Office of Court Administration shall implement processes to ensure the sealing of convictions is complete no later than three years after the effective date.
Laws similar to the New York Clean Slate law A1029C have been passed in other states such as California, Connecticut, Colorado, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Utah. As a legislative movement, clean slate is still relatively young, complex, and evolving. Employers should consider reviewing their screening policies and programs in light of the new law, and similar laws in other states, since some types of offenses will no longer be available in the public record. Employers may want to reconsider the specific types of offenses that they need to take into account when making hiring decisions. Employers should also consult with their legal counsel when considering the impact of the law and updating their background screening and hiring policies and programs.
The Information contained herein is for informational purposes only. Sterling is not a law firm, and none of the information contained in this notice is intended as legal advice. Clients are encouraged to consult with their legal counsel about the impacts of any requirements. This and other important legislative updates can be found on the Sterling website: https://www.sterlingcheck.com/resources/compliance-updates/
Sterling is not a law firm. This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.