Certificate of Relief
March 4th, 2021
Certificate of Relief in North Carolina
A previous felony or misdemeanor conviction on your record can severely limit your chances and opportunities going forward. Whether it is your dreams for a new career or improving on an old one, or on your civil rights, government benefits or even on your relationships, certain convictions on your record inevitably leaves long-lasting consequences. Fortunately, a certificate of relief can help you deal with some of those consequences that could impede your reintegration into society. If this is your first time learning about a certificate of relief, that’s because the most popular option is usually to get an expunction which operates to clear your record. However, an expungement is not always available and may be harder or take longer to obtain.
Under North Carolina law, people who have been convicted of a crime can apply for a certificate of relief from collateral consequences and disqualifications arising out of a previous conviction. The certificate of relief is a court order that reflects the court’s determination to grant relief to the petitioner. It also protects an employer, landlord or someone working with the petitioner from any judicial or administrative action alleging lack of due care, that may arise out of such relationship. Additionally, an employer may not be sued for negligent hiring if they hire a person who has a certificate of relief.
What benefits come with a certificate of relief?
A certificate of relief greatly helps people who are being held back by previous convictions. In North Carolina and most other states, the consequences of a previous conviction can be far-reaching, making it harder to secure employment, housing, keep certain rights, or even to hold licenses.
If granted, the certificate protects the petitioner from penalties that are imposed by agencies, officials or courts based on a previous conviction. Generally, these include:
- Collateral sanctions such as penalties, disabilities or disqualifications mandatorily imposed by operation of law; and
- Disqualifications, which are discretionary penalties that a board or employer or commission may impose.
Once issued a certificate of relief, it would be illegal for a job, school or other entity to deny you consideration solely based on your conviction. Companies, organizations, employers, or people who hire you and work with you cannot also be sued for negligently hiring you.
A certificate of relief will also greatly increase your chances of benefiting from housing, and other available benefits.
What are the limits of a certificate of relief?
The certificate does not expunge records of previous wrongdoing or amount to a pardon of prior conviction. Rather, the document only serves as proof that the petitioner has taken steps to move forward, and is positively moving forward from past convictions.
In addition, not all mandatory sanctions can be cured with a certificate of relief. For instance, a certificate of relief will not remove certain fire arm disqualifications such as using or possessing a firearm, or living with someone legally authorized to possess a firearm. For sex offenders, a certificate of relief will also not erase registration with the Sex offender registry.
The certificate will not also grant relief from sanctions specifically excluded under it, or those imposed under North Carolina or federal law. Such as the state constitutional ban that limits individuals with previous convictions from holding the office of Sheriff; or federal bans on federally assisted housing and food stamp benefits for certain convictions
Entities granting employment or benefits are not prevented from discretionary disqualification based on previous convictions by a certificate of relief. Rather, the certificate allows such entity to view the conviction more positively and possibly erase such disqualifications.
How can I obtain a certificate of relief?
A certificate of relief is only available to people with criminal convictions who meet the basic requirements outlined by the North Carolina General Statute 15A-173.2.
Generally, the certificate is granted after notice to the prosecutor and victim, as well as, subject to the court’s request, investigation by a probation officer.
- The petition for a certificate of relief can only be brought to the court upon the expiration of at least twelve (12) months after the completion of the petitioner’s sentence.
- Even then, only a person who has been convicted of three or fewer Class G, H or I offenses or misdemeanors of any class in one session of court can be granted a certificate of relief.
- The petitioner must have and show proof of that he or she is engaged in or seeking lawful employment or activity. Otherwise he or she must show a lawful source of support.
- The petitioner must, in the opinion of the court, not pose any unreasonable risk if he is granted a certificate of relief.
- The petitioner must also have no criminal charges pending.
Making the decision to obtain a certificate of relief may be driven by necessity, but it is also important to understand the process and relief itself in more detail. Once our office makes sure you understand we help you determine if it is right for your circumstances. Fortunately, the expertise of an experienced criminal defense attorney can properly guide you through the entire process. In most cases you won't have to appear in court.
Stowe Law Firm, PLLC can help
A prior conviction can be an adverse influence on an individual’s career and livelihood. But past mistakes shouldn’t prevent you from moving on with your life. You should be able to access employment, housing, and other vital needs.
Seeking a Certificate of Relief will take an invested criminal justice attorney with compassion for your individual circumstances. At Stowe Law Firm PLLC, our post conviction relief attorney will provide dependable representation. He relys on a wealth of experience and unique insight that ensures you the best possible chances of obtaining your certificate.
Mr. Ryan Stowe loves criminal defense and has several years of experience in representing and advising clients on a wide range of criminal matters including expungement. He will fight for you and help with your criminal defense needs. A consummate trial lawyer, he will advocate efficiently and tirelessly for you at every point.
Here at Stowe Law Firm PLLC, our primary focus is on working hard to ensure that you take back control of your life. We will consult with you, examine your case and help you make a flawless petition that meets your needs. Fortunately, you may even also qualify for an expunction which we can help you pursue.
If you need to obtain a certificate of relief to make your life easier, hurry and contact the experienced criminal defense attorney at Stowe Law Firm PLLC. We offer free case evaluations. Schedule a free initial consultation with our attorney today. You can call 704-856-9502. You can also reach us with an online contact submission.