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A Brand New Day for Many New Yorkers


For decades, people in our state who had been convicted of a crime were basically stuck with a conviction on their records for life.

New York had the toughest post-conviction relief laws of just about any state. Once convicted, that was it for you.

Many futures were ruined

People who had been convicted of a crime could request a Certificate of Relief from Civil Disabilities or a Certificate Good Conduct, which were of limited use in preventing employers or schools from looking at your history.

This restrictive approach ruined the futures of thousands of citizens. A mistake you made 40 years ago could follow you all this time, limiting your opportunities in life. It didn’t matter if you had paid your debt to society. The law was still causing you harm.

The good news

Starting October 1, 2017, the law will change. The legislature has acknowledged the harm done to individuals – especially people who made mistakes when they were young and unwise, by this draconian policy.

The new law rewards individuals who have followed the law in the years since their conviction to have their conviction sealed. Once sealed, potential employers and academic entities will not be able to see it.

You can apply to have your conviction sealed if:

  • Ten years have passed since your conviction or release from incarceration
  • You have committed no additional crimes during this period
  • You are not a multiple offender. (You have not committed more than two felonies in all.)

Not all are allowed 

The law does not allow sealing of every kind of conviction. People convicted of these crimes (or attempting or conspiring to commit them) are still stuck with the conviction on their record:

  • All homicides
  • All class A felonies
  • Sex crimes (any offense requiring the offender to register as a sex offender)
  • Violent felonies

Your chances of success improve greatly when you work with an attorney versed in the new law. We at Lerner & Lerner anticipate a flood of applications by people seeking to have their records sealed, but we are ready to make this law work for you and your future.