Gov. Kathy Hochul next week will sign a long-debated bill to automatically seal the criminal records of millions of New Yorkers a certain period after their sentencing, according to sources that say the governor's office sent out invitations for the bill signing, continuing a years-long Democratic crusade in Albany of passing criminal justice reform.

Known as the Clean Slate Act, the legislation will automatically seal criminal records for about 2.3 million New Yorkers three years after sentencing for a misdemeanor and eight years after a person is released from prison for a felony conviction. It does not apply to class A felonies or crimes that required a person to register as a sex offender.

A person's criminal records will be sealed after the required time if they are not on probation or parole, and have no other pending charges.

Sources said the invitation for the bill signing will be next Thursday. This was first reported by City & State. Hochul, in Puerto Rico on Friday, did not commit to the bill.

"I'm not prepared to say what my plans are, other than to state I am hearing loud and clear from business titans and small businesses, the business councils and others that really would like me to do this, but as is my custom I will not be saying what my plans are until such time as we alert the press for an event," she said.

State Assembly sponsor Catalina Cruz declined to comment.

The Clean Slate Act passed both chambers of the state Legislature back in June and has awaited the governor’s signature. It had routinely passed in the state Senate but would always stumble in the Assembly. The District Attorneys Association of the State of New York also urged Hochul to veto the measure.

The legislation has seen long pushback from Republican lawmakers, who say it will impact public safety. 

Many have argued they support the idea of sealing records of certain crimes, but the current legislation goes too far.

The law will make New York the 11th U.S. state to pass legislation to automatically seal criminal records.


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