New York State Certificate of Relief from Disiabilities for Convicts

Published: 15th June 2010
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The general purpose of obtaining a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities ("Certificate") in New York is for employment purposes. The Certificate restores some of the rights that automatically forfeited due to a felony conviction - it relives the holder of all enumerated forfeitures, disabilities, or bars to employment that are automatically imposed by law by reason of the conviction of the crime or offense listed on the certificate. The term forfeiture is referring to the loss of present rights. The term disabilities and bars to employment are referring to future rights.

An employer or a licensing agency must consider it evidence that the offender is rehabilitated. This does not mean that you automatically will receive the job, just that you can only be rejected if there is other evidence that you are not qualified. Keep in mind, an employer can refuse employment even if you are otherwise eligible if your previous convictions are job-related.The Certificate does not restore the right to hold public office, or erase, or seal the conviction. The governing law is Article 23 of the New York State Correction Law.

Particular agencies and authorities may still deny an offender's formerly held rights, based upon further investigation. For example, a Certificate does not mean that a pistol permit application by the offender will be approved. A Certificate also does not cancel, or in any other way affect, the automatic forfeiture of a felony DWI offender's operator's license.

Who is eligible for a certificate of relief from disabilities?

One can only apply for a Certificate if you have been convicted of no or one felonies. It does not matter if you have any misdemeanor convictions. The Felony convictions that must be considered are all New York State, Federal and Out-of-State convictions. Do not count cases in which you were tried as a juvenile delinquent or youthful offender.

If you have been convicted of more then one felonies, you are not eligible for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities but you may be eligible for a Certificate of Good Conduct.

What's the difference between temporary and permanent certificate of relief from disabilities?

There are temporary, and permanent Certificate of Relief from Disabilities. A temporary certificate is one that is:

1. Issued by the Court to a defendant who is under a revocable sentence as defined under Section 700 of the Correction Law and the Courts authority to revoke such sentence has not expired, or

2. Issued by the New York State Board of Parole and the individual is still under supervision.

If the sentence is revocable then the Certificate can be revoked by the Court for violation of the conditions of the sentence, and shall be revoked by the Court if it revokes the sentence and commits the defendants to prison or a jail like Rikers Island. If the individual is on Parole, then the Certificate may be revoked by the Board for any violation of the conditions or parole or release. If a temporary Certificate is to be revoked, it must be on notice to the defendant and permit him or her an opportunity to be heard. If the Certificate is not revoked, then it will automatically become a permanent Certificate upon expiration of termination of the court's authority to revoke the sentence or termination of Parole.

What to consider before applying for a certificate of relief from disabilities?

Anyone considering obtaining a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities, needs to determine a) what kind of license or employment the individual is seeking, and 2) researching any governing statutes to determine any restrictions for individuals with felony convictions, and c) whether the post conviction Certificate of Relief from Disabilities would provide assistance in obtaining the position.

Application for a certificate of relief from disabilities

The application process depends on the sentence you received, and where you were sentenced:

Misdemeanor Conviction & No New York State Prison Sentence

If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor, or a felony but served no time in New York State prison, then you must apply in the Court where you were convicted. One must contact the Clerk of the Court to learn the individual steps required of that specific Court. The sentencing court has the discretion to grant the Certificate of Relief from Disabilities.

Felony Conviction & Served Time in New York State Prison

Your New York Criminal Lawyer must apply to the New York State board of Parole for the Certificate. If you are currently out on Parole, then contact your Parole Officer.

Federal, Out-of-State Conviction for a Misdemeanor or Felony.

One must apply to the New York State Board of Parole to get a Certificate of Relief for that Conviction.


The author Todd Spodek is a New York Criminal Lawyer

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