What is a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities?
A Certificate of Relief from Disabilities (CRD) may be issued by a court or the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS).
The certificate removes restrictions from getting certain types of employment and/or occupational licenses for people who have been convicted of any number of misdemeanors, or up to one felony. If you have a CRD, it does not mean that an employer has to hire you or that a licensing board has to give you a license. The employer or licensing agency can still consider your conviction and will also take into account your rehabilitation.
Who is Eligible to Apply for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities?
You are eligible for a CRD 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).
The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) may also issue you a CRD if you are an eligible person but was convicted in another state or in federal court and now lives in New York State.
A CRD may be issued to you upon release from jail or prison, with the recommendation of the supervising Parole Officer, at any time while under Community Supervision.
What Effect Does a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities Have on My Status?
A CRD may remove any legal restriction or disability imposed as a result of conviction of the crime or crimes specified in the certificate. The CRD does not, however, enable you to retain or become eligible for public office.
Note that removing legal bars restores your right to apply and be considered for employment or license, but does not guarantee it will be granted.
A CRD issued to you upon release or once you are on parole is a temporary certificate. This certificate becomes permanent when you are discharged from parole.
When Can I Apply for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities?
You can apply for a CRD at the time of sentencing, after sentencing, or after release from state prison.
- At Sentencing: You can apply for a CRD by asking the Judge. If you are going to lose an employment license or public housing because of your conviction, it is important to ask for a CRD at sentencing.
- After Sentencing: You can apply any time after sentencing for a CRD, except you can’t apply while you are in a state prison.
- After State Prison: If you served time in a state prison and have been released, you can apply to the DOCCS to get a CRD.
How Do I Apply for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities?
You should apply to the court that sentenced you unless:
- You were sentenced to a New York State (DOCCS) prison or jail, or
- You were convicted in a federal court or a court in another state and you are now a resident of New York State.
Certificates in these cases are issued by DOCCS.
To Apply for a CRD from the court, you will need to:
- Know the offense;
- Know the court and the relief you want; and
- Fill out the application form. You may need to do a Criminal Records search.
To find the contact information for local courts, go to: New York State Unified Court System
Use this CRD Application to submit to the court:
For the latest version, please visit the New York State Unified Court System's website here:
Even though the application form does not ask for proof of rehabilitation, you should attach any evidence you have, including a letter that you write that explains what happened and how you take responsibility for your actions; letters of recommendation from employers or clergy; and any certificates of completion of drug treatment, job training or volunteer work you may have. Submitting these documents will improve your chance of the Judge granting your application.
The court will grant a CRD if the following four requirements have been met:
- You are considered eligible according to the factors listed in Article 23A;
- The relief granted by the certificate is consistent with your rehabilitation;
- You have attempted to rehabilitate and your efforts are consistent with the relief that would be provided by the certificate; and
- The relief granted by the certificate is in the best interest of the public.
To Apply for a CRD from DOCCS
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 the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) website and submit a completed application directly to the DOCCS Certificate Review Unit at the address listed on the application.
The steps are different if you are under community/parole supervision. If you are under community/parole supervision, you should discuss your interest in applying for a certificate with your supervising Parole Officer, who can recommend you for a CRD.
There is a three-step process for requesting a CRD from DOCCS:
- Fill out an application requesting a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities;
- An Officer will be assigned to investigate your character and rehabilitation; and
- A Parole board determines if you should receive a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities.
Use this CRD Application to submit to DOCCS:
For the latest version, please visit the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision's website here:
Each Certificate of Relief from Disabilities can only cover one conviction. This means that if you have more than one criminal conviction then you will need to apply for a certificate for each individual conviction on your record. If you have a relatively long record then you may want to consider only filling out a certificate for the most recent and/or serious convictions.