If you are convicted of a crime, the consequences of the conviction go far beyond jail time. Even if you are able to get probation or a moderate fine, having a conviction (especially for a felony) can limit you for the rest of your life. You may be barred from holding certain jobs, living in specific places, or exercising freedoms that other Americans take for granted.
Unfortunately, making it harder for someone to get a job, secure a loans, or find housing is not the best way to integrate that person back into society if they are genuinely trying to rehabilitate themselves and contribute to society.
Thankfully, our state understands that and has provided offenders with a few options to regain some of their rights back. Two of these options are obtaining a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities and getting a Certificate of Good Conduct.
What Do These Certificates Do?
When an offender is granted a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities or a Certificate of Good Conduct, they will be able to restore certain rights that were taken away upon conviction. These rights may include:
- Eligibility to obtain certain licenses, permits, employment positions, or franchises
- The right to register to vote
- The right to possess and purchase firearms
- The right to hold or retain public office
To be clear, these rights are not all automatically restored upon the distribution of the certificate. In some cases, and offender may have some rights restored, but not all.
Additionally, the Certificates have different purposes.
Differences between Certificate of Relief from Disabilities and a Certificate of Good Conduct
Different offenders are eligible for each of these certificates, and are eligible to receive them at different points after they are convicted.
Certificate of Relief from Disabilities. As soon as you are convicted, you may apply for this certificate. It can be granted as early as your sentencing date.
Only offenders who are convicted of one felony may apply, although if you have been convicted of more than one felony but they were brought on in a single indictment, or if the felonies were charged in the same court around the same time, New York will bundle the counts into a single felony conviction. In this case, you would still qualify.
A felony conviction can also include guilty pleas that resulted in probation. It is possible to get a certification for each of these. The process of obtaining this certificate may take up to two years, but in your application, you can make your case to speed up the process. The certificate will be granted if you can prove that you have made efforts to rehabilitate yourself and are ready to move forward in your life.
Certificate of Good Conduct. A Certificate of Good Conduct is available to offenders who have been convicted on multiple felonies, as well as offenders who were convicted in other states and now live in New York.
This certificate takes more time to obtain, as an offender will have to prove that they have displayed good conduct in the years since their conviction. For most felonies, the waiting period is three years, but may be increased to five if the felonies include Class A or B felonies.
Want to learn more about your options after a conviction? Reach out to a Brooklyn criminal attorney.