Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Topic: Certificates of Rehabilitation - Restoration of Civil Rights

Certificates of Rehabilitation
and Restoration of Civil Rights.
UPDATE: What follows was written in June of 2011, so it is important to see what any law mentioned, says TODAY. (Today being whenever you are reading this.)
In some states there are ways to obtain a "Certificate of Rehabilitation" which can greatly improve your ability to obtain employment, housing, occupational licenses and even get off the registry (California). And, other civil liberties may also be attached to Certs, every state combines all sorts of things under the package they call a "Certificate of Rehabilitation" and it is always worth exploring.

"Restoration of Civil Rights" is another label used by some states, but still various rights lost when convicted of crimes are packaged and assist one on reentering society following a conviction. So whether you seek a "Certificate of Rehabilitation" or "Restoration of Civil Rights" there are laws to review to see if you would qualify for either of these in the state where you live.

Now as to "Pardons and Commutations" which every state has, these we will not be pointing out as they are a given in every state, but with that said, also very hard to qualify for. Always seek legal advice for either of these because the laws are difficult to navigate and the process is long.

Certificates of Rehabilitation or Equivalent:
Arizona, California, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New York

The following states have established state-issued certificates of rehabilitation or other similar means of removing bars following certain criminal convictions: Arizona, California, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, and New York. These states differ in their levels of protection, eligibility criteria, and procedures. There may be other states with similar relief, so dig into the law where you live and see if there is any relief for you. On to the states we have researched:
  • Arizona: For first time offenders who have not previously been convicted of any other felony, civil rights that were lost or suspended, including occupational bars, are automatically restored if the offender completes all of the sentencing terms: probation, imprisonment, and/or payment of fine or restitution. For offenders with two or more felonies, civil rights are restored only by application to the judge who discharges the offender at the end of the probation period or the judge by whom the offender was sentenced. To see Arizona’s laws:
    13-904, 13-905, 13-906, 13-907, 13-908
  • California: A certificate of rehabilitation may be obtained that declares that an individual convicted of a felony is rehabilitated and may relieve an individual from registering as a sex offender. The offender can apply for the certificate after completing a prison sentence or being released on parole. In addition, the offender must reside in California for three years, must not have been since imprisoned, and must live an “honest and upright life,” conduct himself or herself with “sobriety and industry” and must “exhibit a good moral character and shall conform to and obey the laws of the land.” While a certificate alone cannot remove occupational bars, it is a prerequisite to obtaining a pardon, which may relieve such a bar. A long discussion by a law firm is found here. To see California Codes Penal Codes
    §§ 4852.01, 4852.03, 4852.04, 4852.05, 4852.06, 4852.07, 4852.08, 4852.09, 4852.1, 4852.11, 4852.12, 4852.13, 4852.14, 4852.15, 4852.16, 4852.17, 4852.18, 4852.19, 4852.2, 4852.21

    Note: CA-RSOL has a few folks who have gone through the process. Read their stories. Also see CA-RSOL FAQ #9 and #10.

  • Illinois: Certificates of Relief from Disabilities (CRDs) can be issued by the Prison Review Board or by a court to anyone convicted of a nonviolent crime or offense, but not more than one felony. CRDs serve to restore eligibility for fifteen specified occupational fields that otherwise bar people with criminal convictions. The statute requires the occupational licensing agencies to consider eight enumerated factors to determine whether there is a direct relationship between the previous conviction and the license being sought or if issuing the license would pose an unreasonable risk to people and property. To see Illinois’ law:
    Illinois Compiled Statutes 730 ILCS 5 Unified Code of Corrections. Section 5-5-5
    8-22-15: State expands ‘certificates of good conduct’ for former offenders

    Illinois has taken an important step toward getting more former offenders back to work. On Aug. 17, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 3475, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2016, and expands eligibility for “Certificates of Good Conduct.” Ex-offenders can show these certificates to potential employers as evidence that they have made significant strides in reforming their lives.

    A Certificate of Good Conduct is issued by the circuit court that sentenced the offender after a judge reviews the offender’s record. The offender must not only show that he has refrained from further criminal activity, but also that he has taken positive steps to improve himself. Accomplishments like returning to school or completing a job-training program can help demonstrate this.

    The new law allows offenders to apply for the certificate after one year of good behavior following time served for a misdemeanor offense, or two years after completing a felony sentence. The reform excludes offenders who’ve committed especially serious crimes such as sex offenses, arson, kidnapping, domestic battery or murder, and anyone who has been convicted of a felony more than twice. ..Continued..
  • Nevada: Individuals can apply for restoration of civil rights once they have served the sentence and been released from prison. Individuals may also apply for restoration of civil rights six months after being granted an honorable discharge from probation or parole. Finally, an offender may apply for a pardon, which may or may not include restoration of civil rights but does not lift occupational bars. To see Nevada’s law:
    NRS 213.090 Pardon: Restoration of civil rights; relieved of disabilities; limitations., NRS 213.095 Notice by Board to victim if clemency granted., NRS 213.100 Order of discharge when clemency granted.

    NRS 213.155 Restoration of civil rights after honorable discharge from parole; limitations., NRS 213.157 Restoration of civil rights after sentence served; limitations.
  • New Jersey: If not incompatible with the welfare of society, the Parole Board may grant certificates of good conduct to assist an individual’s rehabilitation that preclude licensing authorities from disqualifying or discriminating against an applicant based upon a criminal conviction. To be eligible, the applicant must have been paroled by the Board, and two years must have elapsed since any similar application was denied.
    New Jersey Statutes

    2A:167-5. Restoration of right of suffrage and other rights; suspension or remission of fine
    Any person who has been convicted of a crime and by reason thereof has been deprived of the right of suffrage or of any other of his civil rights or privileges, or upon whom there has been imposed a fine or who has suffered a forfeiture, except disqualification to hold and enjoy any public office of honor, profit or trust in this state under judgment of impeachment, may make application for the restoration of the right of suffrage or of such other rights or privileges or for the suspension or remission of such fine or forfeiture, which application the governor may grant by order signed by him.

    2A:167-6. Form of application
    Applications for commutation of sentences, other than death sentences, or for the restoration of rights or privileges, or for the suspension or remission of any fine or forfeiture, shall be made upon forms prescribed by the governor.

    2A:167-7. Investigation and report
    The governor, in his discretion, may, prior to granting or denying any such application, refer the same to the state parole board for its investigation, and in such case the board shall make a full and complete investigation and report thereon in writing to the governor with its recommendation in the case.

    New Jersey Administrative Code

    §10A:70-8.1 Definition of certificate of good conduct
    (a) The certificate of good conduct is a document issued by the board to assist the rehabilitation of convicted offenders by removing impediments and restrictions upon their ability to obtain a proposed employment.
    (b) The certificate does not imply pardon and under no circumstances is it to be construed as forgiving, absolving or mitigating the offense(s).
    (c) Issuance of a certificate of good conduct pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:168A-1 et seq. precludes a licensing authority, as defined in N.J.S.A. 2A:168A-2, from disqualifying or discriminating against the applicant because of any conviction for a crime, unless N.J.S.A. 2A:93-5 is applicable.

    (a) An application for a certificate of good conduct shall not be entertained unless the applicant meets all of the following requirements:
    1. The applicant was previously paroled by the board;
    2. At least two years have passed since the date any similar application was denied, unless the board determines that significant information exists which provides a basis for a waiver of this limitation.

    §10A:70-8.3 Procedure
    (a) The applicant shall apply to the board for a certificate on forms prescribed and furnished by the board.
    (b) Upon receipt of the application, the board shall initiate a confidential investigation which shall indicate all pertinent legal and social information, with particular reference to the need the applicant has and the use he or she expects to make to the certificate.
    (c) The applicant shall be required to furnish all documentary evidence the board shall require, except as provided herein.
    (d) The applicant shall have the right to restrict the board's investigation. In such a case, the board's investigator shall note in his or her report the limitations placed on the inquiry by the applicant, and the board shall evaluate such limitations when considering the application.

    §10A:70-8.4 Criteria
    The board shall evaluate the application on the basis of the applicant having achieved a degree of rehabilitation indicating that his or her engaging in the proposed employment would not be incompatible with the welfare of society.

    §10A:70-8.5 Board action
    The board shall grant or revoke a certificate of good conduct by majority vote of its members.
    Certificate of Good Conduct Informational Sheet and Application form is here.
  • New York: Certificates of rehabilitation take two forms: Certificates of Relief from Disabilities (“CRDs”) and Certificates of Good Conduct (“CGCs”). Both lift occupational bars.
    CRDs are available to individuals with any number of misdemeanor convictions but no more than one felony conviction. Separate CRDs are necessary for each conviction. Temporary CRDs may be granted while an individual is on probation or parole, and at completion of the sentence it becomes permanent unless revoked. The sentencing court and the Board of Parole have the authority to grant CRDs..

    CGCs are available to individuals with two or more felony convictions and any number of misdemeanor convictions. Availability of CGC varies depending on the severity of the offense. One CGC will cover an individual’s entire criminal history.
    To see New York’s law:

Finally, if anyone knows of other states that have similar relief, please contact and we will do the research and post. Remember, lawyers can navigate these laws best but do charge a fee for doing so. Hey who works for free.

For now, have a great day and a better tomorrow.
eAdvocate (BACK to the Top Page)
Note: Adapted and Updated from Legal Action Center, New York. see also "Certificates of Rehabilitation and Other Forms of Relief from the Collateral Consequences of Conviction: A Survey of State Laws," by Margaret Love and April Frazier. October 1, 2006

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