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New York Certificate of Relief from Disabilities FAQ Frequently Asked Questions

This page was designed to help our clients better understand our New York Certificate of Relief from Disabilities service. You will find answers to the questions we are most frequently asked. If your question is related to eligibility requirements please take the free online eligibility test.



Will my conviction still show up on my background check?

Yes. The conviction will still appear on a background check; however, the Certificate of Relief from Disabilities will appear next to the relevant conviction on your rap sheet.

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Why should I apply for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities?

A Certificate of Relief from Disabilities can be extremely beneficial when you are seeking employment or applying for an occupational license. A public agency or private employer must give consideration to a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities issued to an applicant and the certificate “shall create a presumption of rehabilitation in regard to the offense or offenses specified therein.” This means that your conviction should not result in your being rejected for employment unless there is other evidence that you are not qualified.

However, a certificate does not completely protect you from being denied employment or a license because of your criminal record. A certificate is not a pardon and does not remove your convictions from your record. You must still list your convictions on job applications where the question is asked. Furthermore, the convictions will still appear on your rap sheet and can be taken into consideration for licenses. The law does allow an employer or licensing agency to refuse to employ or license an applicant where your convictions are “job-related.”

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What does a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities do?

A Certificate of Relief from Disabilities can remove statutory bars with respect to housing and employment because of convictions. That means, that instead of being automatically disqualified from a particular job or license because of a conviction, you have the right to be considered for the position.

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When and where do I apply for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities?

If you were convicted of a misdemeanor or if you were convicted of a felony but served no time in state prison, a court may grant this certificate at the time of sentencing or any time thereafter. If granted at the time sentence is pronounced, the certificate may grant relief from forfeitures and/or disabilities; if granted later, the certificate can only apply to disabilities.

If you were convicted of a felony and served time in a state prison or were convicted of a federal or out-of-state misdemeanor or felony, you may apply to the Board of Parole to obtain a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities as early as when you are serving time in a New York State correctional institution.

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What is the difference between a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities and a Certificate of Good Conduct?

The main difference between the two certificates is who is eligible to apply for each. A Certificate of Relief from Disabilities can be issued, in certain situations, as early as at the time of sentencing. However, a Certificate of Good Conduct has a statutorily required waiting period. Both certificates may be issued to remove legal bars or disabilities or to remove only specific bars or disabilities. Only a Certificate of Good Conduct will restore the right of an individual to apply for public office.

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What if the job I am seeking is considered a “public office”?

Some jobs in New York (like police officer and firefighter) are considered "public offices.” A Certificate of Relief from Disabilities does not lift the statutory bar to a job that is considered a “public office.” Only a Certificate of Good Conduct can lift a statutory bar to a job that is considered to be a "public office."

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What factors are considered by the court or Board of Parole when issuing a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities?

The court or the Board of Parole, whichever is applicable, must be satisfied that the person to be granted relief is an eligible offender that the relief to be granted is consistent with the rehabilitation of the eligible offender and that the relief to be granted by the certificate is consistent with the public interest. Basically, the court or Board of Parole determines if you are rehabilitated and granting a certificate of relief is in the interest of justice to grant the certificate.

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Can a court request an investigation before issuing a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities?

Yes. A “court may for the purpose of determining whether such certificate shall be issued, request its probation service to conduct an investigation of the applicant…”

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Can I obtain a copy of a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities Investigation Report?

Yes. Upon the court’s receipt of a certificate of relief from disabilities investigation report from a probation department, the court shall provide a copy of the report, or direct that such report be provided to the applicant’s attorney or the applicant.

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Is a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities permanent or temporary when issued?

Whether this certificate is permanent or temporary depends upon the applicant’s circumstances.

If you were convicted of a misdemeanor or if you were convicted of a felony but served no time in state prison, the court can issue the Certificate any time after you are sentenced. This certificate is temporary until such time as either the court’s authority to revoke the sentence has expired or is terminated or the individual is discharged from the board’s supervision. The court’s authority to revoke ends upon probation ending or a conditional discharge. A court may revoke a certificate in two situations. First, for violation of the conditions of the sentence. Second, if the court revokes the sentence and commits the person to a state correctional institution. If the certificate is not revoked, it shall become a permanent certificate upon completion of probation or a conditional discharge. In all cases, revocation must be upon notice and after an opportunity to be heard.

If you were convicted of a felony and served time in a state prison or were convicted of a federal or out-of-state misdemeanor or felony, the Board of Parole can issue a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities as early as when you are on parole or supervised release. These certificates are temporary until such time as the individual is discharged from parole or supervised release. The Board of Parole may revoke either certificate for violation of the conditions of parole or release. If the certificate is not revoked, it shall become a permanent certificate upon completion of parole or supervised release. In all cases, revocation must be upon notice and after an opportunity to be heard.

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Can new certificates be granted to enlarge relief?

Where the court or the Board of Parole, whichever is applicable, has issued a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities to remove only specific bars or disabilities, we can apply to the court or the Board of Parole, whichever is applicable, to issue a new Certificate of Relief from Disabilities and subsequently enlarge the requested relief to include bars or disabilities not removed in the original Certificate of Relief from Disabilities that was issued.

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Do I need to hire an attorney or can I proceed with obtaining the certificate of relief on my own?

You have an attorney to (1) make sure the process is done right the first time so your case does not get rejected or cost you months of delay and (2) send an attorney to court to argue the case if need be.

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Do I have to go to court?

We go to court on your behalf. While we may recommend your attendance, attendance is not required in most cases.

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How does the attorney know my case details?

Once you sign up we have you fill out a questionnaire on your personal online account. The questionnaire asks questions that influence the outcome of the case and allows us to argue the case before a judge. Although some of the questions may seem simple, the more information and detail that you provide in your answers the better we are able to argue the case in your favor.

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How long does the process take?

Typically, the process takes about a year or two.

We base our estimates of how long a case will take on how long the average is for that service in that state. However, some cases can take less or more time depending on the facts of the case, whether the DA is agreeing or objecting, the age of the case, etc. We work on your case as fast as we can and assist the court and DA in anything they need to get your case heard.

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Can the process be done faster?

If you need your Certificate of Relief from Disabilities in a hurry, you should explain why in a letter with your completed application form. If you would like us to file that letter in addition to the application for the certificate then we can for a fee. When a job or occupational license is at stake, the Board of Parole makes every effort to speed up the application process. If helpful, we will gladly write your employer or potential employer a letter letting them know we are seeking a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities.

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How do I know what is going on with my case?

We have an online tracking system that is just for your case(s). You will have a user name and password for the account, which will have the information specific to the case. Whenever anything happens in your case, we post the information in your online account so that you can view the status of the case and the progress that is made. If there is no post on your online account, then that means that there is no update in the case. For example, once we update your online account to reflect that we have filed the motion with the court we will update the notes when we hear a response from the court or District Attorney. Depending on the court, a case can take several weeks to months to hear from the court or District Attorney whether there is an objection, hearing, or anything else. If something is taking longer than usual for the court, we will call to obtain status of the case and update your online notes. In addition to posting the status updates in your online account, we will post your case information in the case information so you are aware of the case and future hearings.

Moreover, we post your contract and payment plan information on the online account for you so that you can view all the information and print the necessary content.

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Does my disposition of guilty or no contest matter?

No, your disposition does not matter. We can apply for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities regardless of what you pled.

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Do you have a money back guarantee?

We are unable to offer a money back guarantee because the process involves a substantial amount of preparation and sometimes several appearances in court by our attorneys. We cannot afford to offer this low of a price and a money back guarantee.

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If I have several convictions, do I need to get a certificate for each?

Yes. You person must apply for and get a separate Certificate of Relief from Disabilities for each conviction. You can get Certificates of Relief from Disabilities for all of your convictions, even for those that were federal or occurred outside New York, provided you are a New York resident.

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Do you have payment plans?

We can create a payment plan that meets your needs. Please view the pricing for details regarding the payment plans.

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What is the main reason that a case requesting a certificate of relief is denied?

Cases are denied for the following reasons: (1) an inaccuracy in the application, (2) the parole board does not believe granting you a certificate will be in the interest of society, (3) violating probation, or (4) not paying fines.

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What if I don’t know exactly what is on my record?

We will be glad to work with you to get a copy of your record and to review what can be done. We charge a researching fee and we apply that to the cost of any service that you hire us to perform.

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What if my case is denied?

If the case is denied, we evaluate the reason for the denial and determine the best way to proceed. If we do not believe that refiling would be successful, then we may recommend for the person to wait longer to refile.

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What happens after the certificate is granted?

You will receive the granted certificate.

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How do the agencies know I received a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities?

Any court or Board of Parole issuing or revoking any certificate shall immediately file a copy of the certificate, or of the order of revocation, with the New York state identification and intelligence system.

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How long do records take to be updated?

Records shall be updated immediately.

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Will a certificate clean up my DMV record?

No. A Certificate of Relief from Disabilities does not affect your DMV records.

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Will my record prohibit me from visiting Canada?

If you have been convicted of minor offenses (including assault, dangerous driving, DUI, theft, shoplifting, unauthorized possession of firearms, possession of illegal substances, etc.) or indictable criminal offenses (including assault with a deadly weapon, manslaughter, etc.) you may be prohibited from entrance into Canada and further action will be required to find out whether you will be allowed entrance. The Canadian government has entered into an information sharing agreement with the United States, so the Canadian government will have whatever information the United States has on file. Therefore, the first thing you should do is clear your criminal record to the fullest extent possible before submitting to a background check. The benefit of setting aside will show the Canadian government that the matter was resolved and no longer considered a conviction and improve the odds of not being denied entry to Canada or being stuck at the border for lengthy interrogation.

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Can I get a Sentri pass?

The Border Patrol has discretion in granting or denying Sentri passes. So, the only thing we can say for sure is that it would help; investing in record clearing before applying for a pass would be advantageous. A modest investment in getting a set aside could be the difference between having your request accepted or denied. The set aside will show that you have resolved all matters with the court.

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Can I vote after being granted a certificate of relief?

Upon completion of your prison or parole sentence for a felony conviction, your civil rights are automatically restored.

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Will being granted a certificate of relief help with immigration?

Criminal violations may have severe consequences for immigrants, even if the crime is expunged/vacated/sealed. Even minor offenses such as petty theft can make someone deportable or inadmissible, while more serious offenses such as burglary may not have the same consequences. Since each case is unique, getting a case-by-case analysis tailored to your specific facts is imperative. To find out if your criminal conviction will impact your immigration case, contacting a qualified immigration attorney is vital. Our in-house immigration attorney is available to answer questions at 714-617-8395.

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Will being granted a certificate of relief restore my right to own a firearm?

A Certificate of Relief from Disabilities may remove New York State’s statutory bar to apply for and receive a license to possess a firearm imposed upon those convicted of a felony or serious offense, it does not prevent the agency from denying the issuance of a license.

However, there is also a lifetime prohibition from the United States government (Lautenberg Amendment to the Violence Against Women Act), which prohibits firearm ownership of those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence as defined by the federal law. The federal definition is narrower than New York's definition, so your domestic violence conviction in New York might not trigger the federal law. A certificate in New York does not lift the federal prohibition.

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Who can serve on a jury in New York?

In New York, you may serve on a jury if you: 1) are a United States citizen, 2) are over the age of eighteen, 3) are a resident of the county by which you are summoned, 4) are able to understand and communicate in English, 5) have not been convicted of a felony, unless you have had your rights restored.

http://www.nyjuror.gov/juryQandA.shtml https://www.parole.ny.gov/program_restoration.html

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The first step towards a better life begins with finding out if you are eligible for New York Certificate of Relief from Disabilities.



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Law Firm of Higbee & Associates
48 Wall St., Ste 1100
New York, NY 10005
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