New York Proposes “Clean Slate” Bill to Seal and Expunge Criminal Records

Second Chance

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

A “Clean Slate” bill proposed in the New York State Senate would create a two-step process to automatically seal and eventually expunge – or erase or remove completely – certain past criminal convictions so ex-offenders may have an easier time finding employment opportunities, according to a report from the New York Daily News.

Sponsored by New York State Senator Zellnor Myrie (Democrat-20th District) in January 2021, Senate Bill S1553A (SB S1553A) would amend the criminal procedure law by adding a new section so certain criminal convictions for misdemeanors and felonies would be sealed upon the satisfaction of the following conditions:

  • At least one year has passed from the imposition of sentence on the individual’s most recent misdemeanor conviction in the state.
  • At least three years have passed from the imposition of sentence on the individual’s most recent felony conviction in the state.
  • The individual does not have a criminal charge pending in the state.
  • The individual is not currently under the supervision of any probation or parole department for the eligible conviction.
  • The individual is not currently required to register as a sex offender as a result of the conviction.

In addition, convictions “would be automatically and fully expunged five years after sentencing of a misdemeanor conviction and seven years after a felony conviction, as long as a person is no longer on probation or parole, has no pending criminal charges in the state, and is not a sex offender,” according to the New York Daily News report.

“Civilly sealed convictions would then not show up in most background checks for employment and housing and would be inaccessible to police departments” but would still be accessible “for agencies statutorily mandated to fingerprint people for government-regulated jobs, licensing, and clearances,” the New York Daily News reported.

“A criminal conviction shouldn’t be a life sentence to second-class status, but for many of our friends, neighbors, family members, and fellow New Yorkers, that’s exactly what it is,” New York State Senator Myrie was quoted as saying in the New York Daily News report. “Our Clean Slate legislation aims to change that.”

“A Clean Slate bill should be a no-brainier for any state legislature. Putting the burden on ex-offenders who successfully complete their probation and have no new offenses to go back to court and try to navigate the judicial system serves no purpose,” said Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) CEO Attorney Lester Rosen.

“As a former criminal defense attorney who has represented literally thousands of accused individuals, court proceedings can be both overwhelming and confusing to most people. Add another layer of burden years later just makes it more difficult for former offenders to obtain gainful employment,” Rosen explained.

Second chance programs that help to give individuals with a prior criminal record a chance to find work after leaving prison will continue to evolve, according to Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), a leading global background check provider that compiled the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” for 2021.

Founded by Rosen in 1997, Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – which was ranked the #1 screening provider by HRO Today in 2020 – offers a white paper on “Ten Critical Steps for Ex-Offenders to Get Back into the Workforce” and an Ex-Offender Resources Page. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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