FAQs: Certificates of Relief from Disabilities & Good Conduct

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1. What is a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities? What is a Certificate of Good Conduct?

These two certificates can help you get jobs, housing, and other benefits even though you have a criminal record. Here is how:

  • They provide evidence (a “presumption”) of rehabilitation; that is, they show that you have demonstrated to the state that you have turned your life around.
  • New York employers and government agencies that give licenses needed to work in certain jobs must consider your certificate when deciding whether to give you a job or license despite your criminal record.
  • If a law says you cannot work in a certain field or get a license because of your conviction, the certificate can remove that restriction. You are no longer automatically disqualified from that job or license. But NOTE – even when you have a certificate, the employer or agency can still look at your record. The certificate just means that you cannot be completely barred.
  • A certificate can restore other rights or privileges you lost because of your conviction. For example, New York law says you cannot be appointed the legal guardian of a child if you have a felony conviction. The Certificate removes that restriction. New York law also says that people on parole cannot vote (though other people with convictions can), but the certificate can restore the right to vote. Click here for more information.
  • Note: Certificates of Relief and Certificates of Good Conduct cannot restore gun rights to individuals convicted of a Class A-I felony offense or a violent felony offense.

2. Does a certificate expunge, erase or seal my convictions?

No. A certificate does not mean that employers and others will not be able to see or use your criminal conviction or that you do not have to disclose it, when asked. The information may still show up on a background check.

3. Is a certificate a pardon for my conviction?

No.

4. Should I apply for a certificate?

Yes, if you have any misdemeanor and/or felony convictions.

5. What is the difference between the two certificates?

They do almost the same thing. The only difference is that the Certificate of Relief from Disabilities cannot restore the right to hold public office (special appointed or elected government jobs, not all government jobs; call LAC if you want to know if a job is a public office). Only a Certificate of Good Conduct can restore this right.

6. How do I know which Certificate I am eligible for?

It depends on your conviction history. See our Step-by-Step Guide to Obtaining Certificates to find out which one applies to you.

7. Can I get both types of Certificates?

No. You can only be eligible for one or the other unless applying for public offices or gun rights.

8. How do I apply for these Certificates?

It depends on what kind of convictions you have, what your sentence was and where your conviction happened. See our Step-by-Step Guide to Obtaining Certificates to find out how to apply.

9. What do I do if I am not sure of my conviction history?

You should get a copy of your New York State RAP sheet. You can request a copy from the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), or you can call us to make an appointment for our RAP sheet workshop on Wednesdays.