New York State Bar Association President: Signing of Clean Slate Act Heralds a Monumental Day for Justice and Fair Treatment
Richard Lewis, president of the New York State Bar Association, issued the following statement about Gov. Kathy Hochul signing the Clean Slate Act into law:
“This is a monumental day for equal treatment in New York. The law now recognizes that offenders who have paid their debt to society should not be permanently marked by their past mistakes. The New York State Bar Association has long advocated for the passage of this bill as a matter of fairness, and we are pleased to finally see it come to fruition. This law ensures that employers, landlords and other members of the community will not have access to criminal records years after crimes are committed. We thank the governor for signing the Clean Slate Act into law and giving New Yorkers a second chance and the opportunity to lead full, productive lives.”
The Clean Slate Act (S07551/A01029) was a priority of the New York State Bar Association and its Government Relations Department for the 2023 legislative session. Some priorities and key initiatives passed by the Senate and Assembly still await review by the governor. This includes removing a requirement that out-of-state attorneys practicing in New York have an office in the state. Other priorities, such as removing the notarization requirement in civil cases, have already been signed into law.
The Clean Slate Act seals the records of New Yorkers who complete their sentences and remain out of trouble for a set amount of time – three years for those convicted for misdemeanors, and eight years for those convicted of eligible felonies. Sex crimes, murder and most other class A felonies will not be eligible for automatic sealing.
Sealed records will only be made available to the court and law enforcement agencies in limited circumstances, such as when a person with a sealed record is a witness or defendant in a criminal or civil proceeding. Certain sensitive employers will also be able to look at sealed records.
The law will go into effect in a year.