Legal Aid Society

Projects, Units & Initiatives

Case Closed Project

Case Closed is a record sealing and expungement project in the Special Litigation Unit of The Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Practice. Launched when New York’s 2017 sealing law went into effect, the project has grown to provide direct representation, educate the community, and advocate for broader legal reform.

Carrying a criminal record can be debilitating. In New York, people with criminal records are routinely barred from job opportunities, denied basic government benefits, have trouble securing affordable housing, and live under the weight of institutional and personal discrimination. Many of these individuals are victims of outdated, biased policing methods that aggressively targeted people of color.

Fortunately, there is hope.

Under the current law, some people with criminal records can have their convictions sealed. People who have not committed a crime in ten years and who have no more than two total convictions in New York, including one felony, can apply to have their record sealed. The eligibility requirements are complicated, so please contact us or consult our informational resources to assist you in determining if you are eligible.

Record sealing has opened up an incredible opportunity for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. For those who are not eligible under the current law, Case Closed is working to expand the law and allow people to truly move on with their lives.

Our Impact

Since the sealing law went into effect in 2017, Case Closed has represented hundreds of clients in sealing matters and has had more cases sealed for our clients than any other office in the state. Of those who have had their records sealed, some have already obtained new jobs, applied for college, and moved to neighborhoods with better schools for their children. Lifting the financial and psychological burdens of having a criminal record is truly life-changing.

Trainings & Presentations

Marijuana Legalization
Under New York’s 2021 Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, several old and new penal law marijuana convictions will be automatically expunged. Case Closed’s Emma Goodman led a recent training for community leaders, attorneys, journalists, and others who need to understand the MRTA and its impact on communities.

Clearing Your Record
Having a criminal record can prevent you from accessing jobs, licensing, housing, and educational opportunities long after you have completed your sentence. Learn more about record clearance in New York State.

Links & Resources