Recently, a bill was signed into law in New York seeking to address some issues people face when they have a criminal record. At the same time, it shows why people should fight hard to avoid a conviction in the first place.
Those convicted can benefit from the Clean Slate Act
Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the Clean Slate Act to grant some people who were convicted of crimes to have their records sealed. There are rules they must adhere to. After they have served their sentences, they must steer clear of legal trouble for a minimum of three years if it was a misdemeanor and eight years if it was a felony.
Some crimes cannot be sealed under this law. They include most Class A felonies, murder and sex crimes. New Jersey passed its own version of the law in 2019. People who have been convicted of crimes and served their debt to society often have trouble even after they have been released. They can face obstacles securing housing, be blocked from getting certain types of employment and have the conviction negatively impact their lives long after they have been freed.
The law will not be effective for another year. Still, there were necessary concessions from the original bill that needed to be accepted to secure its passage. These shine a light over the problems people with convictions can have when trying to reintegrate into society. The concessions include the waiting period being longer and businesses needing liability for hiring those with convictions.
A criminal defense can be key to prevent long-term challenges
As the justification for the Clean Slate Act shows, people convicted of crimes can lose their freedom, deal with financial turmoil and have their reputations shattered. This is true regardless of the type of criminal allegation they are charged with.
Immediately after the arrest, it is imperative to assess the evidence, consider the options and determine a path forward. There could be an opportunity to secure a plea bargain. The case itself might not be especially strong and an acquittal could be achievable. No matter what, people should understand the short and long term consequences of a conviction and know the value of a criminal defense.