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Relief From Civil Disabilities and Certificates of Good Conduct

Having a past criminal conviction can make it difficult to obtain work in New York, and even make it impossible to get certain professional licenses. Even though anti-discrimination laws are in place, having a criminal record often gives former felons and those convicted of misdemeanors a huge disadvantage, leading to an endless cycle of unemployment.

Fortunately, ex-felons and individuals with misdemeanor convictions in New York can get a second chance at earning gainful employment by obtaining a Certificate of Good Conduct or a Certificate of Relief. If you are interested in relief from civil disabilities and certificates of good conduct, contact a skilled criminal attorney as soon as possible. 

Defining a Certificate of Good Conduct

The collateral consequences of a criminal conviction, which are the additional state and civil penalties placed on top of prison, fines, and probation, can be long-lasting.

These consequences can include loss of the right to vote and own a firearm, ineligibility to hold certain jobs and earn professional licenses, and loss of student financial aid.

A Certificate of Good Conduct (CGC), granted by the New York State Board of Parole, eliminates some of these collateral consequences and allows former felons to:

  • Have a better chance at getting a job
  • Run for public office
  • Apply for certain professional licenses and certificates
  • Own a firearm
  • Have better student loan rates
  • Obtain housing assistance
  • Vote
What is a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities?

Similar to a CGC, a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities (CRD) removes some of the collateral consequences of having a criminal record. It differs from a CGC in that CRDs are granted by the courts themselves.

Eligibility for a CGC

Individuals are eligible for a CGC if they have been convicted of at least two separate felonies, or if they want to hold a job in public office. To obtain a CGC, a former felon must prove that they have been rehabilitated by showing good conduct for a specific period of time.

Individuals must not have committed any new crimes for relief from civil disabilities and certificates of good conduct. They must have paid off all fines or restitution during this probationary period to display good conduct.

If they have been convicted of an A or B felony, the individual must complete a five-year period of good conduct. For a C, D, or E, felony the wait time is three years, and for a misdemeanor conviction, they must wait at least one year before applying for a CGC.

This wait time begins the last time the individual was released from prison, or the date of their last conviction if no prison time was mandated.

Eligibility for a CRD

Individuals are eligible for a CRD if they have misdemeanors or less than two felonies. To obtain a CRD, those with a criminal background can apply at sentencing by asking the judge, after sentencing but before entering state prison, or after serving time in state prison by applying to the NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

CGCs and CRDs Do Not Expunge a Criminal Record

Despite giving individuals convicted of crimes more rights and advantages, Certificates of Good Conduct and Certificates of Relief from Disabilities do not erase a criminal conviction.

Criminal records in New York can never be expunged (although some may be sealed), and individuals must still report their convictions on job applications. However, if you are eligible to have your criminal conviction sealed pursuant to New York Criminal Procedure Law 160.59, you may be able to “hide” or “erase” certain criminal convictions from public view and prevent employers from making any inquiries or learning about your criminal record.

A certificate does not guarantee that things like professional licenses will be granted; it just gives individuals with a criminal background the right to apply for those licenses.

Take advantage of New York State’s criminal conviction sealing law and secure either a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities or a Certificate of Good Conduct to take control of your future. Each day you wait to pursue relief from civil disabilities and certificates of good conduct, is another lost opportunity to a life you and your family deserves.

Call the New York State criminal conviction sealing lawyers and former New York City prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online.

Client Reviews
... I was facing a class B felony and potentially tens of thousands in fines and some legit jail time and after hiring Jeremy Saland he obviously struck enough fear into the prosecutors with his sheer litigation might that it was knocked down to a petty misdemeanor and after a few sheckles and a handful of counseling sessions, I will no longer have a criminal record. The offices of Saland Law are the Shaq and Kobe of criminal defense in New York City and to even consider another firm is outright blasphemy. I stand by this statement 100% Evan
Let me start by saying how amazing Liz Crotty is! I am a resident of California, who needed representation for my son who received a desk citation while he was visiting NYC. Liz jumped on the case right away; she was very thorough in explaining things to me. She is strictly business too! She went to court on my son's behalf and had his case dismissed. I am forever grateful to her. Seana G.
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