New York, unlike many other states is especially unforgiving and does not have a law that allows expungment of a criminal conviction. Usually, absent unusual circumstances a person who has been convicted of a crime in New York, will have the conviction for life. Rarely, sympathetic judges will vacate a conviction under New York’s interest of justice standard, but it is discretionary and often arbitrarily applied. Recently a federal court in New York vacated a conviction because the conviction, which was for a minor crime was preventing the woman from gaining employment.
A fraud conviction that prevented a local woman from employment for 13 years has recently been expunged by Judge John Gleeson. The woman’s criminal record prevented her from working, paying taxes, and caring for her family for 13 years. It forced her to rely on public assistance although she has the ability and desire to work and support herself and her family. Judge Gleeson decided it would better serve public interest if the woman was a contributing member of society, rather than an able body citizen depending on government assistance.
The woman, an immigrant from Haiti has four children and was making 783 dollars a month, which was less than the rent in her Queens apartment at time of the crime. She became involved with a car insurance scam in which she faked an injury and filed a civil suit resulting in her receiving $2,500. Ms. Doe knew that filing a false lawsuit was a crime, what she didn’t know was that the punishment she would receive if caught would wreck her chances of finding employment for over a decade.