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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

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New York Clean Slate Lawyers – Record Sealing

By Spodek Law Group | January 22, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 19, 2023)

Last Updated on: 19th October 2023, 01:13 pm

New York Clean Slate Lawyers – Record Sealing

The New York State legislature recently passed the Clean Slate Act, which will automatically seal certain criminal records after a period of time. This new law aims to help people with criminal records move on with their lives and find jobs more easily. Here’s an overview of what the new law does and what it means for people looking to get their records sealed.

What is the New York Clean Slate Act?

The Clean Slate Act was passed by the New York legislature in June 2022. It will automatically seal certain criminal conviction records after a period of time for people who complete their sentences and stay out of further legal trouble. Here’s a quick rundown of how it works:

  • Misdemeanors will be automatically sealed 3 years after the sentence is completed
  • Felonies will be sealed after 7 years
  • DUIs and sex offenses cannot be sealed
  • Records will still be available to courts, law enforcement, and licensing agencies like the DMV

The law aims to help people who made mistakes in their past move on with their lives. A criminal record can make it really hard to get a job, find housing, or go to school. The Clean Slate Act is supposed to give people a fresh start.

Who is eligible to have their record sealed under the Clean Slate Act?

In order to have your record automatically sealed under the new law, you need to meet these requirements:

  • You completed your entire criminal sentence, including any probation or parole
  • A certain amount of time has passed since you finished your sentence (3 years for misdemeanors, 7 years for felonies)
  • You have stayed out of legal trouble and have no pending charges
  • Your conviction was in New York state

Importantly, the waiting period starts after you finish your entire sentence, including parole or probation. The clock doesn’t start as soon as you get out of jail.

There are also certain convictions that can’t be sealed under the Clean Slate Act:

  • Sex offenses
  • Class A felonies like murder, arson, kidnapping
  • Conspiracy to commit a Class A felony
  • DUI/DWAI offenses

But most other misdemeanor and felony convictions are eligible, as long as you meet the requirements.

How does the sealing process work under the Clean Slate Act?

The best part about the new law is that it makes the sealing process automatic for eligible convictions. You don’t have to hire a lawyer or file any court paperwork.

The state will use its records to identify eligible convictions and seal them after the waiting period passes. Certain agencies like the Department of Corrections will notify other agencies when a record should be sealed.

This means sealing your record under the Clean Slate Act could happen without you even knowing it! There will be a way to check the status of your record online when the law takes effect.

Does a sealed record completely disappear?

No, sealing a criminal record doesn’t make it disappear altogether. Sealed records will still be available to:

  • Courts, prosecutors, police, and other law enforcement agencies
  • State agencies that require fingerprint background checks for employment (like schools, hospitals, etc)
  • Federal law enforcement agencies

So a sealed record under the Clean Slate Act is still visible to many governmental agencies. But it will be hidden from most regular employers and landlords.

How can the Clean Slate Act help you?

The Clean Slate Act can be a huge help to people trying to move on with their lives after a criminal conviction. Here are some of the benefits:

  • Better job prospects – Many employers won’t hire someone with a criminal record. Sealing your record can open up more job opportunities.
  • Easier access to housing – Landlords often deny housing to people with criminal histories. A sealed record can help you secure an apartment.
  • More education options – Colleges sometimes turn away applicants with convictions. A sealed record may help you enroll.
  • Peace of mind – Just knowing your old conviction is sealed can give you relief from stress and worry about your past.

The Clean Slate Act gives eligible New Yorkers a fresh start and a chance to move forward with their lives unburdened by an old conviction.

When does the Clean Slate Act take effect?

The Clean Slate Act was signed into law by Governor Hochul in July 2022. But it doesn’t take effect right away.

The law will actually go into effect sometime in mid-2023. The exact date hasn’t been announced yet. But the sealing process will likely start about a year after the law was signed, so summer 2023 is a good estimate.

New Yorkers with eligible convictions will be able to start having their records automatically sealed starting at that time. The state still needs to establish all the procedures and notify agencies before the law can kick in.

Should you try to seal your record before the Clean Slate Act takes effect?

New York has had a sealing process in place before the Clean Slate Act. You can hire a lawyer and petition the court to seal certain eligible convictions.

But this traditional sealing process can be expensive and time consuming. It also has lower eligibility than the Clean Slate Act. That’s why it might make sense to wait for the new law to take effect rather than try sealing your record the old way.

If you have convictions that won’t qualify under the Clean Slate Act, like a sex offense or Class A felony, you may still want to pursue sealing the traditional way. Speak to a lawyer to understand your options.

How can you check your New York criminal record?

To take advantage of the Clean Slate Act, it helps to know your complete criminal record in New York. You can get a copy of your NY rap sheet by requesting a criminal history report from the Division of Criminal Justice Services.

You’ll submit a form, pay a $75 fee, and get a complete report of your NY criminal record mailed to you. This lets you see what convictions might get sealed when the new law takes effect.

Learn more about getting your NY rap sheet here.

Could the Clean Slate Act be expanded in the future?

The Clean Slate Act was a compromise bill that lawmakers passed after negotiations. Some criminal justice advocates argue it doesn’t go far enough.

There are efforts to expand the law in the future to seal more types of convictions or shorten the waiting periods. But the current version was seen as a good starting point that can help large numbers of people.

As the sealing process gets underway, lawmakers will study its effectiveness. There may be changes down the road to expand eligibility even more.

How can you restore your rights if your record is sealed?

In New York, a criminal conviction can strip you of certain rights and privileges, like voting, serving on a jury, and gun ownership. Just sealing your record won’t automatically restore these rights.

If your record gets sealed under the Clean Slate Act, you may need to go through additional steps to get your rights back. For example, you’ll need to submit voter registration forms to restore voting rights after a felony conviction.

Speak to a lawyer or public defender to better understand the process for restoring your individual rights after sealing your record.

Does the Clean Slate Act help with federal convictions?

No, the Clean Slate Act only applies to New York state convictions. If you have a federal conviction, it will not be sealed under this new law.

Federal convictions can still be sealed, but you’ll need to go through the federal courts rather than relying on New York’s Clean Slate Act. The process varies depending on the type of federal conviction.

Could a sealed conviction still show up on a background check?

It’s possible that a sealed conviction could still show up on certain background checks, even after the Clean Slate Act is in effect. As mentioned above, sealed records will still be visible to law enforcement, courts, and licensing agencies.

If an employer, landlord, or school does a fingerprint background check, for example, they may be able to see a conviction that was sealed under the Clean Slate Act.

The law aims to improve opportunities and reduce discrimination for people with records. But it’s not a 100% guarantee that a sealed record will never come up again.

Is the Clean Slate Act retroactive?

Yes, the Clean Slate Act looks back retroactively at older convictions. As long as you meet the time and eligibility requirements, convictions from many years ago can be sealed.

For example, if you were convicted of a felony in 2010 and completed your sentence including parole by 2015, it may qualify to be sealed in 2023 after the 7 year waiting period.

The law isn’t limited to just new convictions after 2022. Older eligible convictions will also get sealed.

Could a sealed conviction be unsealed later?

Yes, it is possible for a conviction sealed under the Clean Slate Act to later be unsealed. If you commit a new crime after your record is sealed, prosecutors have the ability to request to unseal the old conviction.

Committing a new offense shows you may not deserve the benefits of sealing under the Clean Slate law. So don’t violate the law once your record is sealed if you want the sealing to remain in place.


The New York Clean Slate Act is groundbreaking legislation that will help large numbers of people with criminal records move forward with their lives. This automatic sealing law provides a clearer pathway to redemption and second chances.

If you have an eligible New York conviction, be sure to understand the law’s requirements and benefits. Consult with an attorney to see if your record could be sealed when the law takes effect in 2023. Relief may soon be on the way for many people looking to overcome past mistakes.

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