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Gov. Cuomo Amends Criminal Procedure Law to Seal Records for Most Petty Offenders

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Governor Cuomo yesterday (October 7) signed legislation that amends the criminal procedure law to seal the criminal records of many New Yorkers convicted of petty offenses.

Specifically, the new law applies to conviction charges as reflected in the final disposition of the case and not the original charge, with the exception of loitering and operating a motor vehicle while impaired.

Access to these records is now prohibited to any person or public/private agency, unless otherwise determined by a judge.

The legislation will take effect in 90 days.

“For years, local law enforcement agencies were not consistent in how they chose to seal conviction records for petty offenses,” Governor Cuomo said. “By signing this legislation, we can take a small step to greatly improve disparities in the criminal justice system.”

Starting in 1980, nearly all non-criminal dispositions that appeared on a criminal history report had been sealed.

However, the law was amended in 1994, which Cuomo says has led to the inconsistent sealing of petty offenses by local law enforcement, depending on whether the arrest carried a more serious charge of a crime.

Cuomo said this inconsistency resulted in an “unusual and unintended irregularity” of those charged with misdemeanors or felonies being treated more favorably in the criminal justice system than those with petty offenses.

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