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A Certificate restores most of your rights that were lost because of a felony conviction. It does not allow you to hold public office and it does not erase the conviction. Also, a particular agency or authority can still deny you your rights based on further investigation. (ex: You will not automatically be granted a liquor license just because you have a Certificate of Relief. Also, a Certificate of Relief does not cancel or in any other way affect the automatic forfeiture of a felony DWI offender’s driver’s license.)
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If you are at risk of losing your job, license or the right to engage in certain activities due to your conviction you need a Certificate of Relief to lawfully continue or to pursue those activities. If you have been convicted of no more than one felony and wish to have your rights restored you need a Certificate of Relief. If you have more than one felony conviction you are not eligible, unless they were handled in the same Court at the same time.
Youthful Offender is not a conviction so you do not need a Certificate.
If you were sentenced to local time, Probation, conditional discharge, a fine or a combination of any of these, the Certificate will be issued by the Court where you were sentenced. If your Probation case was transferred, the Court to where jurisdiction was transferred will issue the Certificate. If you are sentenced to a state correctional facility a Certificate would be issued by State Board of Parole.
If you are eligible and receiving a revocable sentence, and your attorney makes a request to the Court, a Certificate will be issued at the time of sentencing. If you are on Probation, your Officer can assist you with the paperwork. If you are no longer on Probation or did not receive Probation, the paperwork is available at the Probation Department. Probation will assist you in filling it out but it will be your responsibility to submit it to the Court that sentenced you with a letter of explanation as to why you want the Certificate. The Court may request an investigation be prepared by the Probation department before making a decision whether or not to grant the Certificate.
If you were sentenced after September 1st, 2007 the jurisdiction in your case was automatically transferred to the supervising county and you should go there. Prior to that time it depends on whether or not the jurisdiction of your case was transferred. If it was transferred you would apply to the new county, if it was not transferred then you would go back to the sentencing county. Check with the last Probation department you were involved with to see which county holds jurisdiction.
The New York State Penal Law section 265.20 states a person must be in possession of a Certificate of Good Conduct to legally possess a firearm if they have been convicted of a felony or serious offense. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System(NICS) at the Federal level requires a Certificate of Good Conduct, as it is specified in the Penal Law, in order to purchase firearms. It does not specifically address the possession of previously owned firearms. They have indicated an individual must be eligible to possess both long guns and handguns without any restrictions as to purpose, place or usage. In order to be able to purchase a long gun someone must obtain both an unrestricted Certificate of Relief from Disabilities and a Certificate of Good Conduct. There has been much discussion regarding allowing people to have their rights restored through a Certificate of Relief only. However, at this time the law has not been changed and a Certificate of Good Conduct is sometimes required. Also, be advised effective 1/30/12, you may no longer use or possess black powder guns or muzzle loaders without the appropriate certificate.
If you are granted a Certificate of Relief and/or a Certificate of Good Conduct you may be considered for jury duty.
A Certificate is considered to be temporary if you are on Probation or a Conditional Discharge at the time the Certificate is issued. It automatically becomes permanent if you successfully complete Probation/Conditional Discharge. If you are on Probation and are violated the Certificate may be revoked at the discretion of the Judge. However, if you are re-sentenced to the State Department of Corrections the Certificate of Relief is automatically revoked. If you are granted a permanent Certificate it will remain in effect unless you are convicted of another felony. After another felony conviction it is automatically considered null and void.
You can apply for a Certificate of Good Conduct. This is granted by the State Board of Parole whether or not you were in state prison or on Parole. There is a waiting period since your last conviction. If the most serious crime you were convicted of was a "C", "D", or "E" felony you must wait at least three years from the date of your last conviction or release from state incarceration. If your most serious crime was a "B" or "A" felony you must wait at least five years. A misdemeanor may be considered and would require a one year waiting period. The felony waiting period is mandatory.
Article 23 of the Correctional Law deals with Certificates of Relief from Disabilities and Certificates of Good Conduct. Article 23A of the Correction Law deals with licenses and employment of persons convicted of criminal offenses