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NYCLA Report: Collateral Consequences of Non-Criminal Adjudications

  • Organization: New York County Lawyers' Association
  • Document Type: Report
  • Date Created: Monday, May 08, 2006
  • Submitted: Wednesday, November 01, 2006
  • Attachment(s): LINK

Collateral Consequences of Non-Criminal Adjudications

Report by the New York County Lawyers' Association (May 8, 2006)

The New York County Lawyers' Association (NYCLA) has called for the immediate creation of a procedure to address the collateral consequences of non-criminal convictions to petty offenses in a report, The Collateral Consequences of Non-Criminal Adjudications, prepared by its Criminal Courts Task Force. The Report acknowledged the worsening problem of collateral consequences for non-criminals, particularly with the advent of electronic databases. Discovery of these records had previously only been possible by a manual search from courthouse to courthouse. More sophisticated technology now enables individuals to access the New York State Office of Court Administration's (OCA) electronic database, which contains a statewide listing of all public court records of any individual, including convictions to non-criminal petty offenses, for a $52 fee.

Individuals with no criminal record are increasingly suffering from employment, housing, education and credit problems with the advent of this easily available database.

Under the current sealing structure, there is no avenue for a person who may have otherwise lived and will continue to live a law-abiding life to seal his or her court record for a non-criminal petty offense such as disorderly conduct or a traffic infraction. All law enforcement agencies, which include the Police Department and District Attorney's Office, in addition to city and state agencies' fingerprint records, are sealed by law, but the court records remain open.

There is widespread support to resolve immediately this mounting problem. NYCLA's Report suggests two alternative legislative proposals, both designed to directly address the matter.

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