Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

Who is eligible for a Certificate of Relief?

CERTIFICATE OF RELIEF | RESTORATION OF RIGHTS

You are eligible for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities if you have been convicted of any number of misdemeanors and no more than one felony (two or more felony convictions in the same court on the same day are counted as one felony for deciding which certificate you are eligible for). The term “disability” refers to laws that disqualify people from holding certain jobs or other rights because of their conviction.

The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) may also issue you a Certificate of Relief if you are an eligible individual who has been convicted in another state or in federal court and who now resides in New York State.

A Certificate of Relief from Disabilities may be issued upon an eligible individual’s release from a correctional facility or, with the recommendation of the supervising Parole Officer, at any time while under Community Supervision.

What effect does a Certificate of Relief have on my status?

A Certificate of Relief may remove any mandatory legal bar or disability imposed as a result of conviction of the crime or crimes specified in the certificate. The Certificate of Relief does not, however, enable you to retain or become eligible for public office. Note that removing mandatory legal bars restores your right to apply and be considered for employment or license, but does not guarantee it will be granted.

A Certificate of Relief issued to you upon release or once you are on parole supervision is a temporary certificate. This certificate becomes permanent when you are discharged from supervision. While it is temporary, the certificate may be revoked by action of DOCCS.

Who is eligible to apply for a Certificate of Good Conduct?

You are eligible for a Certificate of Good Conduct if you have been convicted of two or more separate felonies. You must show that you have completed/achieved a certain period of good conduct in the community. You must wait 5 years if the most serious felony on your criminal record is an A or B, 3 years if the most serious felony on your criminal record is a C, D or E felony, or 1 year if you only have misdemeanors on your criminal record. The waiting period starts when you were last released from incarceration (prison or jail) to Community Supervision, or were released from incarceration (prison or jail) by maximum expiration of your sentence, or at the time of your last criminal conviction (which ever of these events comes last).        
                           
DOCCS may also issue you a Certificate of Good Conduct if you are an eligible individual who has been convicted in another state or in federal court and who now  lives in New York State. The good conduct waiting period will be determined by what level the conviction would be considered in New York State.

What effect does a Certificate of Good Conduct have on my status?

A Certificate of Good Conduct has the same effect as the Certificate of Relief. In addition, the Certificate of Good Conduct may restore your right to seek public office. The certificate may remove all legal bars or disabilities or remove only specific bars or disabilities.

The Certificate of Good Conduct issued to you while under parole supervision is a temporary certificate. The certificate will become permanent upon discharge from supervision.

How are certificate applications submitted?

If you are not under community/parole supervision and/or have completed the maximum expiration of your sentence you can download a certificate application from this website and submit a completed application directly to the DOCCS Certificate Review Unit at the address listed on the application.

If you are under community/parole supervision you should discuss your desire/interest to apply for a certificate with your supervising Parole Officer, who can recommend the issuance of a certificate for you.

How are voting rights restored?

If you have been convicted of a felony, you lose the right to vote. This right is automatically restored when you complete your maximum sentence or are discharged by the Board of Parole. If you have been issued a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities or a Certificate of Good Conduct while on parole, you may register to vote.

Where may I obtain more information about Certificates of Relief and Good Conduct, and about licensing and employment?

New York State Correction Law, Article 23, explains Certificates of Relief from Disabilities and Certificates of Good Conduct. Article 23A deals with licenses and employment of individuals convicted of criminal offenses. You can contact the DOCCS Certificate Review Unit at the address listed on the application about specific questions you may have.

Download an application for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities or Good Conduct (PDF 48 kb).