There is some good news this holiday season as the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, announced that he will pardon thousands of adults who were convicted as young offenders in New York. The opportunity will be available for people who were convicted of non-violent, non-sexual offenses when they were 16 or 17 years of age.
The New York State Constitution empowers the governor to grant reprieves, commutations, and pardons to people convicted of all crimes except treason and impeachment, with restrictions and limitations as the governor sees fit. The governor has to report the statistics of those granted clemency under this constitutional provision.
In New York, pardons are generally considered when there are no other avenues of relief, either legally or administratively. Pardons may be used to set aside a conviction in cases where there is overwhelming evidence of innocence that was unavailable at the time of the conviction, or to remove a legal disability, such as disqualification from certain jobs, that is imposed on an individual convicted of a crime.
In order to be pardoned under the new program, a person who was convicted of a crime when he or she was 16 or 17 years old must meet the following requirements:
- The person was 16 or 17 at the time they committed the crime for which they were convicted.
- At least 10 years have passed since the person was either convicted of the crime, or released from a period of incarceration for that crime, if applicable.
- The person has been conviction-free since that time.
- The person was convicted of a misdemeanor or a non-violent felony.
- The person was not originally convicted of a sex offense.
- The person is currently a New York State resident.
- The person has paid taxes on any income.
- The person is a productive member of his or her community, meaning that the individual is working, looking for work, in school or legitimately unable to work.
If an applicant meets these requirements, they will most likely be recommended for a pardon after submitting an application.
Other Available Options
For those who do not meet the criteria for this program, there may be other ways to receive relief from employment disabilities imposed through conviction. One such way is through obtaining a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities. A person may obtain a Certificate of Relief if he or she only has convictions for misdemeanors and not more than one felony. A person with more than one felony may seek a Certificate of Good Conduct, which has the same effect in terms of seeking employment as a Certificate of Relief. In addition, while New York generally does not have a procedure for expungement of convictions, there are limited provisions for sealing of drug-related convictions which were passed in recent years as part of broader drug-reform provisions.
While a person pardoned under Governor Cuomo’s program will not have an expunged record, he or she will have an opportunity to apply for positions that would otherwise have been restricted due to a conviction. This program would be a great way for thousands of people to move forward from mistakes made years ago that might otherwise plague them for a lifetime.
Contact a Syracuse Criminal Defense Attorney
A conviction can carry lifelong consequences.If you have been arrested, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you fight the charges against you. Contact experienced Syracuse criminal defense attorney George F. Hildebrandt for a consultation.