Clean Slate Act gets a makeover: Amended version excludes Class A felonies and extends waiting period

June 8, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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The New York City Bar Association has reiterated its strong support for the passage of the Clean Slate Act, even as the legislation faces critical amendments. The modified version, though less extensive than its original form, is nonetheless being endorsed by a large and diverse coalition that includes 49 law firms and numerous businesses and organizations.

The amended Act promises to pave the way for millions of New Yorkers with past criminal convictions to secure financial stability and housing, and to play a more active role in the state’s economy.

Despite its promise, the amended version of the Clean Slate Act, which was introduced to the New York State legislature on June 5, has sparked some controversy due to two significant alterations. Firstly, it excludes people with most Class A felony convictions, except for drug-related offenses. This change may prevent thousands of New Yorkers, who have completed their sentences and are already reintegrating into the community, from accessing the bill’s benefits.

The second amendment extends the waiting period for individuals with felony convictions to have their records sealed from seven to eight years. This extension applies as long as individuals are not on parole or probation and have no new charges or convictions.

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“The City Bar supports innovative legislative solutions to ameliorate those consequences that result in essentially a civil life sentence experienced by individuals with conviction histories,” City Bar President Susan J. Kohlmann wrote. “The Clean Slate Act is one such solution.”

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