Certificate of Relief from Civil Disabilities
What You Need to Know
Laws governing Certificates of Relief from Disabilities and Certificates
of Good Conduct were enacted to reduce the automatic rejection and community
isolation that often accompany conviction of crimes. They set out to facilitate
the rehabilitation of first offenders so that they can, for the most part,
find employment without the onerous restriction of a criminal conviction.
Correction Law §753(1)(a), which authorizes the granting of a Certificate of Relief from Civil Disabilities,
recognizes that it is the public policy of New York state to "encourage
the licensure and employment of persons previously convicted of one or
more criminal offenses." Correction Law §753(2) further establishes
that with respect to a "public agency" or "private employer,"
a certificate "shall create a presumption of rehabilitation."
Who is eligible for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities?
New York Correction Law §700 establishes that a person is eligible
to receive a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities if he / she has been
convicted of a crime or offense, but has not been convicted of more than
one felony. If you are wondering, a "felony" means a conviction
of a felony in this state or of an offense in any other jurisdiction for
which a sentence to a term of imprisonment in excess of one year, or a
sentence of death, was authorized.
A plea or verdict of guilty upon which a sentence or the execution of a
sentence has been suspended or upon which a sentence of probation, conditional
discharge, or unconditional discharge has been imposed shall be considered
a conviction. Some of our clients have asked us whether an individual
adjudicated a youthful offender incur any civil disabilities. The answer,
thankfully, is no.
What can a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities do and not do?
First, what does a Certificate of Relief from Civil Disabilities do? In
general, Correction Law §701 provides that a certificate may relieve
an eligible offender of any forfeiture or disability, or remove any bar
to employment, automatically imposed by law by reason of conviction of
the crime or the offense. A Certificate of Relief from Disabilities will
prevent the automatic forfeiture of any license, permit, employment, or
franchise, including the right to register for or vote at an election.
While regaining the right to vote after a conviction is a satisfying development
for our clients, the positive effect it has on sealing one's convictions
from some employers – like those in governmental jobs - is the real
value of having a Certificate of Relief from Civil Disabilities.
Correction Law Article 23-A - which contains the authority for a Certificate of Relief from Civil
Disabilities - establishes parameters to safeguard against unfair discrimination
against persons previously convicted of one or more criminal offenses
by a "public agency" or "private employer". Correction
Law §752 establishes that no applicant for any "license"
or "employment," to which the provisions of this article are
applicable, can be denied by reason of the applicant's previous criminal
conviction or by reason of a finding of lack of "good moral character"
when such finding is based upon the applicant's criminal conviction
of one or more criminal offenses
- There is a "direct relationship" between one or more of the previous
criminal offenses and the specific license or employment sought; or
- The issuance of the license or granting of the employment would involve
an unreasonable risk to property or to the safety or welfare of specific
individuals or the general public.
In the very least, a Certificate of Relief from Civil Disabilities means
that a public agency or private employer must give consideration to the
Certificate of Relief from Disabilities issued to an applicant by creating
that all-important presumption of rehabilitation.
Keep in mind, a Certificate of Relief from Civil Disabilities cannot do
everything. For example, if one has been convicted of a New York DWI charge,
a Certificate of Relief from Civil Disabilities will not prevent forfeiture
of driver's licenses. (There are other legal options that exist -
regarding the suspension and revocation of driving privileges – which our
New York DWI attorneys can handle for you)
Experienced New York Post-Conviction Lawyers
At Sullivan Brill, we can assist you in applying for a Certificate of Relief
from Civil Disabilities. Our
New York post-conviction attorneys have been representing clients with criminal records for close to 15 years.
We have set out to make sure that one's past does not destroy their
future. If you or someone you know has been convicted of a state or federal
crime and is looking for some remedy,
contact us today. We can
schedule your free case evaluation and speak with you about your situation.