Certificates of Rehabilitation in New York City

When a prior conviction or criminal record cannot be sealed, consider applying for a certificate of rehabilitation in New York City to retain employability and restore lost civil rights in the state. These documents are available in two forms: Certificate of Relief from Disabilities (and forfeitures) and a Certificate of Good Conduct. Many first-time offenders are eligible for a Certificate of Relief of Disabilities and they may be issued both at sentencing or anytime thereafter by the court or state parole office.

For individuals with multiple felony convictions, a Certificate of Good Conduct may be issued in its stead by the Department of Corrections but requires a minimum probationary period to pass with no new arrests before an application can be made. To determine whether you are eligible for either form of relief, consider consulting with a top New York City expungement lawyer about the specifics of your case.

What are the Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Conviction?

There are certain consequences that follow a criminal conviction that do not stem directly from statute. These collateral consequences can be steep, and in many cases, they can last much longer than the penalties written into state law. Because they occur outside of law, these consequences cannot be bargained away during plea negotiations with a prosecutor.

For felonies, the collateral consequences can include direct limits on constitutional rights. For instance, anyone convicted of a felony could lose their right to vote or own firearms.

A criminal conviction of any kind could impact a person’s ability to maintain employment. Additionally, felons could face restrictions on certain government jobs, and any employer has the right to perform a background check and deny employment based on a criminal conviction. Others could find that the professional license needed to make a living has been suspended or revoked due to a conviction.

Potential employers are not the only parties that could rely on a background check. Prospective landlords also make frequent use of background checks during the application process. A property owner is under no obligation to lease to someone with a criminal conviction. This could make it difficult to obtain affordable housing.

A certificate of relief from disabilities or a certificate of good conduct could help a person convicted of a crime avoid these collateral consequences in the future. For the best possible results, let an attorney in New York City assist in the process of obtaining these certificates of rehabilitation.

What is the Difference Between Certificates of Relief and Certificates of Good Conduct?

Other than eligibility requirements, Certificates of Relief from Disabilities and Certificates of Good Conduct are essentially the same, both in what benefits they can provide and what they cannot. What they can provide is relief from certain disabilities and forfeitures of rights that are “imposed by law by reason of” a past misdemeanor or felony conviction. Correction Law § 703-a (2). Some notable examples of lost rights which may be recovered by either certificate include the right to apply for – although not necessarily receive – a professional license, the right to apply for a license to carry and possess firearms, the ability to receive a conditional driver’s license during the period of lost driving privileges after a DWI conviction, and restore civil rights, like the right to vote for those on a prolonged or indefinite period of probation or parole. What these certificates cannot do, however, is “relieve an individual from disclosing a prior criminal conviction” on an employment applications, In re Ghorab v. Sweeney, 219 AD2d 793 (3d Dep’t 1995), nor provide immunity from deportation by the federal government. Mugalli v. Ashcroft, 258 F.3d 52, 61-62 (2d Cir. 2001). While the limitations of each certificate are significant, don’t let it diminish the importance of the relief they do provide: the right to be considered on an employment application as an individual – as opposed to a criminal – and who cannot be legally disqualified as a candidate solely by reason of a criminal conviction.

Speak with an Attorney in New York City about a Certificate of Rehabilitation

If you or someone you know is dealing with employment issues after conviction (but before sentencing) or has just recently been released from a state or federal prison sentence, contact an experienced lawyer who could help you start the application process for a certificate of rehabilitation. Tax information needs to be prepared, references submitted and, if eligibility is contested, formal arguments made before a reviewing body, either the court or Parole Board. The consequences of a prior misdemeanor or felony conviction need not haunt you for life. Consider retaining top New York certificate of relief lawyers to restore lost civil rights and employment restrictions set by the state after conviction.

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