The Latest Changes in Clean Slate Legislation

In an increasingly challenging economic environment, both businesses and job-seekers face difficulties in meeting needs. For years now, the Fair Chance movement has made gains nationwide in seeking reforms surrounding when and how employers, landlords, and others can review criminal records when evaluating an individual's suitability. Many states now have ban the box laws that limit when you can check criminal records. Still, others have begun moving even further—extending or creating opportunities for those with prior convictions to seal or completely expunge their records.

Expunged records are those that functionally do not appear in any records searches and may as well not exist. Sealing records hides convictions from view except in specific, authorized instances, such as a court order or when the law requires more visibility for sensitive jobs, such as child care. Let's take a quick look around the nation for updates on these legislative movements in several states.


Colorado has become one of the latest states to pass a sweeping clean slate law with numerous provisions, such as automatic sealing of arrests that don't produce convictions. Certain non-violent felonies can go under seal after ten years from release, misdemeanors after seven years, and Coloradans can now even seal basic civil infractions after four years. While the law carves out exceptions, it offers a far-reaching second chance opportunity.

North Carolina

In North Carolina, advocates have recently raised concerns about a troubling loophole in the state's expungement law. There is no requirement for the state or its agencies to notify licensed background check companies when an individual's records have been expunged. Therefore, there is potential for employers to encounter information that they should not consider legally. Debate remains ongoing about how to solve the problem.

New York

In New York, the State Assembly, once again, passed a version of a clean slate bill similar to Colorado's. Requiring individuals to serve their full sentence would allow time-gated opportunities for expungement. However, the bill has reached this same stage and failed before in several legislative sessions. Whether the state senate will send the bill to the governor's desk remains to be seen.


After years of vigorous debate in the Virginia legislature, lawmakers finally passed a finished version of their fair chance bill that became law in 2022. Under this new rule, some misdemeanor convictions such as marijuana possession will automatically go under seal after seven years without reoffending.


In 2021, the state legislature in Arizona considered a new fair chance law that would allow some offenders to have their records sealed within only a few years of completing their sentence. While proponents praised the law as an opportunity to give many people a fresh start, the legislature could not come to a final agreement. The bill was withdrawn and has not been resubmitted.

Stay Aware of the Law in Your Area

Whether you operate a business in one of these areas or your region already has fair chance laws on the books, staying up to date with the latest changes is essential. Maintaining compliance when conducting background checks, drug screening, and other due diligence demands an attentive approach. For individual job-seekers, monitoring these laws is also advised. Most states don't enact automatic expungement, and sealing records often requires a proactive effort. However, the benefits can be well worth the work. As fair chance laws expand, we'll continue to provide updates on the newest changes.

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Michael Klazema

About Michael Klazema The author

Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments

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