Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

Restoration of Rights

CERTIFICATE OF RELIEF | RESTORATION OF RIGHTS

1. ARE THERE PROTECTIONS AGAINST DISCRIMINATION BASED ON CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS?

Yes, unless you have a mandatory disability imposed on you by law. Otherwise, employers and licensing agencies are prohibited from denying your application because of a criminal record unless:

a. There is a direct relationship between one or more of the previous criminal offenses and the specific license or employment sought; or,

b. The issuance of the license or the granting of the employment would involve an unreasonable risk to property or to the safety or welfare of specific individuals or the general public.

2. WHAT IS MEANT BY "MANDATORY DISABILITIES?"

As a result of felony and certain misdemeanor convictions, you may by prohibited by law from engaging in certain types of employment and from applying for certain types of licenses. These disabilities may continue even after completion of the sentence imposed by the court.

3. FROM WHAT LICENSES AND EMPLOYMENT ARE OFFENDERS BARRED?

Legal bars to licenses and employment are contained in various laws enacted by the New York State Legislature. Some examples include employment as a security guard, private investigator, insurance broker and many local civil service positions, as well as licenses to sell liquor wholesale or retail, and licenses for real estate brokers and notary publics. This is not a complete list.

4. HOW MAY MANDATORY DISABILITIES BE REMOVED?

The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), in its discretion, may issue a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities or Certificate of Good Conduct. These two certificates have different eligibility criteria, and neither is issued prior to release from incarceration. A certificate may remove mandatory disabilities in general or only those specifically indicated by DOCCS. If either kind of certificate is issued only for specific disabilities, the Board may issue a supplementary certificate granting relief from additional disabilities.

5. WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR A CERTIFICATE OF RELIEF?

By law, you are eligible for a Certificate of Relief if you have not been convicted of more than one felony. For this purpose, two or more felony convictions stemming from the same indictment count as one felony. Two or more convictions stemming from two or more separate indictments filed in the same court, prior to conviction under any of them, also count as one felony.

The Board of Parole may also issue you a Certificate of Relief if you are an eligible offender who has been convicted in another jurisdiction and who now lives in New York State.

A Certificate of Relief may be issued upon an eligible individual's release from a correctional facility or at any time thereafter.

6. WHAT EFFECT DOES A CERTIFICATE OF RELIEF HAVE ON MY STATUS?

A Certificate of Relief may remove any mandatory legal bar or disability imposed as a result of conviction of the crime or crimes specified in the certificate. The Certificate of Relief does not, however, enable you to retain or become eligible for public office. Note that removing mandatory legal bars restores your right to apply and be considered for employment or license, but does not guarantee it will be granted.

A Certificate of Relief issued to you upon release or once you are on parole supervision is a temporary certificate. This certificate becomes permanent when you are discharged from supervision. While it is temporary, the certificate may be revoked by action of DOCCS.

7. WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO APPLY FOR A CERTIFICATE OF GOOD CONDUCT?

In contrast to the Certificate of Relief, you are eligible for the Certificate of Good Conduct even if you have been convicted of more than one felony. You do not become eligible for a Certificate of Good Conduct, however, until a minimum period of time has elapsed from the date of your unrevoked release from custody by parole or from the date your sentence ended.

In cases in which the most serious conviction is a misdemeanor, there must be at least one year of satisfactory community adjustment before a Certificate of Good Conduct can be considered. In cases in which the most serious conviction is a C, D or E felony, you must wait at least three years. In cases in which the most serious conviction is an A or B felony, you must wait at least five years.

8. WHAT EFFECT DOES A CERTIFICATE OF GOOD CONDUCT HAVE ON MY STATUS?

A Certificate of Good Conduct has the same effect as the Certificate of Relief. In addition, the Certificate of Good Conduct may restore your right to seek public office. The certificate may remove all legal bars or disabilities or remove only specific bars or disabilities.

The Certificate of Good Conduct issued to you while under parole supervision is a temporary certificate. The certificate will become permanent upon discharge from supervision.

9. HOW ARE CERTIFICATE APPLICATIONS SUBMITTED?

If you have not completed your sentence, you cannot apply directly for a Certificate of Relief or a Certificate of Good Conduct. The application is submitted to the DOCCS Certificate Review Unit. If you are anticipating release consideration or are under parole supervision, you should discuss your desire to apply for a Certificate with your Parole Officer.

If you have completed your sentence, you may apply directly to the Certificate Review Unit of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision for Certificates of Relief or Good Conduct. If you were convicted in another state or by a federal court, you may apply directly upon release from custody to the Certificate Review Unit.

10. HOW ARE VOTING RIGHTS RESTORED?

If you have been convicted of a felony, you lose the right to vote. This right is automatically restored when you complete your maximum sentence or are discharged by the Board of Parole. If you have been issued a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities or a Certificate of Good Conduct while on parole, you may register to vote.

11. WHERE MAY I OBTAIN MORE INFORMATION ABOUT CERTIFICATES OF RELIEF AND GOOD CONDUCT, AND ABOUT LICENSING AND EMPLOYMENT?

Article 23 of the Correctional Law deals with Certificates of Relief from Disabilities and Certificates of Good Conduct. Article 23A of the Correction Law deals with licenses and employment of persons convicted of criminal offenses. Consult your Parole Officer about specific questions you may have.

Download an application for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities or Good Conduct