Certificate of Relief / Good Conduct & Restoration of Rights
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Certificate of Relief

Eligibility

You are eligible for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities if you have been convicted of any number of misdemeanors and no more than one felony; two or more felony convictions in the same court on the same day are counted as one felony for determining your eligibility. The term “disability” refers to laws that disqualify people from holding certain jobs or other rights because of their conviction.

DOCCS may also issue a Certificate of Relief to eligible individuals who now resides in New York State, but have been convicted in another state or in federal court.

A Certificate of Relief from Disabilities may be issued upon an eligible individual’s release from a correctional facility or with the recommendation of the supervising PO at any time during Community Supervision.

Effect on 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.

Removing mandatory legal bars restores the right to apply and be considered for employment or license, but does not guarantee the employment or license will be granted.

A Certificate of Relief issued upon release or once on community supervision is a temporary certificate, which becomes permanent when the parolee is discharged from supervision. While temporary, the Certificate may be revoked by action of DOCCS.

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Certificate of Good Conduct

Eligibility

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 until a minimum period of time has elapsed from the date of your unrevoked release from custody by community supervision or from the date your sentence ended.

You must show that you have completed/achieved a certain period of good conduct in the community. You must wait:

  • five years if the most serious felony on your criminal record is an A or B;
  • three years if the most serious felony on your criminal record is a C, D or E felony; or
  • one year if you only have misdemeanors on your criminal record.

Effect on Status

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

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

How to Apply

If you have not completed your sentence, you cannot apply directly for a Certificate of Relief or a Certificate of Good Conduct.

Applications are submitted to DOCCS Certificate Review Unit. If you are anticipating release consideration or are under community supervision, discuss your desire to apply for a Certificate with your PO.

The Parole Board may also issue a Certificate of Relief to eligible offenders who have been convicted in another jurisdiction but who now live 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.

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.

Waiting Period

The waiting period begins when you were last released from incarceration (prison or jail) to community supervision or from incarceration (prison or jail) by maximum expiration of your sentence, or at the time of your last criminal conviction, whichever occurrence is last.      

Out-of-State Convictions

DOCCS may issue you a Certificate of Good Conduct if you are an eligible individual who has been convicted in another state or in federal court and now lives in New York State. The good conduct waiting period will be determined by the level of conviction in New York State.

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Right to Vote

If you have been convicted of a felony and sentenced to a term of incarceration, 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.

This right can be restored before that time while still on parole by Governor’s pardon. 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.

If you are under community supervision, you should discuss your interest in applying for a certificate with your supervising PO who can recommend issuing a certificate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there protections against discrimination based on criminal convictions? Unless mandatory disability is imposed by law, employers and licensing agencies are prohibited from denying your employment 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.

What does "mandatory disabilities" mean? 

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 you complete the sentence imposed by the court.

What are some of the employment and licenses from which formerly incarcerated individuals may be 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, a private investigator, an insurance broker, and many local civil service positions, as well as licenses to sell liquor wholesale or retail, or for real estate brokers and notaries public. 

How can mandatory disabilities be removed? 

In its discretion, DOCCS 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 certificate is issued only for specific disabilities, the Parole Board may issue a supplementary certificate granting relief from additional disabilities.

Who is eligible?

By law, individuals eligible for a Certificate of Relief 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 Parole Board may also issue a Certificate of Relief to eligible offenders who have been convicted in another jurisdiction but who now live 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.

How do you apply?

If you have completed your sentence, you may apply directly to the Certificate Review Unit 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.

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.

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. However, you do not become eligible for a Certificate of Good Conduct 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.

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.

How should you submit your Certificate applications?

If you have not completed your sentence, you cannot apply directly for a Certificate of Relief or a Certificate of Good Conduct. You should submit your completed application 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 a Certificate 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.

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.

Where can you obtain more information about Certificates of Relief and Good Conduct, or 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.

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