|Certificates of Good Conduct or Relief from Disability||
Last updated: September 2015
A Certificate of Good Conduct or Relief from Disability is a finding by the court that a person has been “rehabilitated.” Some jobs have "licensing and employment bars" that stop people with criminal records from having that job. A Certificate can be used to get around employment and licensing bars in some circumstances. A Certificate of Good Conduct can also be helpful when applying to jobs that do have specific employment barriers, such as:SchoolsPark districtsTransitA Certificate cannot be used when trying to be hired by law enforcement, the Department of Corrections, or the Department of Juvenile Justice.Click on words that appear like 'this' to learn what these words mean.What are Certificates of Good Conduct and Relief from Disability? A Certificate is a court order that says the court has found a person to be rehabilitated. You can use a Certificate to relieve a specific employment bar or to better your opportunities with a job that does not have any specific employment bars. Note: A Certificate does not relieve all employment bars, only the ones you specifically request. Certificates help individuals acquire occupational licenses or state employment that current laws and policies would normally prevent them from obtaining because of their criminal record. This includes overcoming barriers imposed by school codes, park districts, and other licensing agencies throughout Illinois. Are there things that a Certificate does NOT do? Yes. It is important to know that there are some things that a Certificate does not do. Certificates DO NOT:Make convictions harder to view by the public. Certificates do not expunge or seal a person’s record. The person’s record is still publically available; Allow a person to say they have not been convicted of a crime. Certificate holders still have to answer “yes” when asked the question, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” on job applications;Provide any guarantees of being hired or getting a license. The employers and licensing agencies still have to decide if the person is qualified and fit to get a license or be hired; andServe as a pardon. Only the governor can pardon offenses. Will a Certificate accomplish the same thing as expunging or sealing my record? No. Expungement is only available to those who have never been convicted of a criminal offense. Sealing is only available to non-violent misdemeanor offenses. There are many people that cannot have their records expunged or sealed, but can receive a Certificate. For more information see "Related Articles."What employment and licensing barriers can be waived with a Certificate? A Certificate of Good Conduct relieves a person of any statutory employment bar that prohibits the hiring of a person with certain convictions. Some examples include:SchoolsParksTransitHowever, a Certificate cannot be used when trying to be hired by law enforcement, the Department of Corrections, or the Department of Juvenile Justice.What licenses can a Certificate of Relief from Disability be used for? A Certificate of Relief from Disability relieves a person of licensing barriers issued by the Illinois Department of Regulations. The following are licenses a Certificate of Relief from Disability can be used for:Animal Welfare ActIllinois Athletic Trainers Practice ActBarber, Cosmetology, Esthetics, and Nail Technology Act of 1985Boiler and Pressure Vessel Repairer Regulation ActProfessional Boxing ActIllinois Certified Shorthand Reporters Act of 1984Illinois Farm Labor Contractor Certification ActInterior Design Title ActIllinois Professional Land Surveyor Act of 1989Illinois Landscape Architecture Act of 1989Marriage and Family Therapy Licensing ActPrivate Employment Agency ActProfessional Counselor and Clinical Professional Counselor Licensing ActReal Estate License Act of 2000Illinois Roofing Industry Licensing ActProfessional Engineering Practice ActWater Well and Pump Installation Contractors License ActElectrologist Licensing ActAuction License ActIllinois Architecture Practice Act of 1989Dietetic and Nutrition Services Practice ActEnvironmental Health Practitioner Licensing ActFuneral Director and Embalmers Licensing CodeLand Sales Registration Act of 1999Professional Geologist Licensing ActIllinois Public Accounting ActStructural Engineering Practice Act of 1989Who is eligible for a Certificate? There are requirements that must be met to be eligible for a Certificate. First, the individual must qualify as an “eligible offender." Once this qualification is met, then the person must satisfy the particular requirements of a Certificate.An “eligible offender” and specific requirements are further explained in questions 6 and 7. For a Certificate of Good Conduct there is a minimum period that the indiviudal must have good conduct: Misdemeanor convictions require one year of good conduct from the end of the probation or parole; andFelony convictions require two years of good conduct from the end of probation or parole.For a Certificate of Relief for Disability, there is no waiting period once you have been sentenced to petition for this Certificate.What is an “eligible offender?” A person must be an eligible offender if they wish to get a Certificate. To qualify as an “eligible offender,”the individual may NOT have any of the following on their criminal record:Any class X felony convictions, such as murder, aggravated robbery, or aggravated criminal sexual assault;Any felony convictions where the victim suffered great bodily harm or permanent disability;Any convictions that require post-release registration, such as sex offenses, offenses against children, rape, arson, or any other crime; orAny aggravated DUI or aggravated domestic battery convictions.Note: Misdemeanor convictions have no bearing on whether an individual is an eligible offender. When can a person apply? For a Certificate of Good Conduct: Misdemeanor convictions require one year of good conduct from the end of the probation or parole; andFelony convictions require two years of good conduct from the end of probation or parole.For a Certificate of Relief from Disability: At the time of sentencing or anytime thereafter.What are the other requirements for petitioning for a Certificate? A court may not issue a Certificate unless the person applying for the Certificate proves to the court the following four things:1) The petitioner is an eligible offender. See question 7 for an explanation of an eligible offender.2) The petitioner’s good conduct over a minimum period of time warrants the issuance of the Certificate:Good conduct, at the very least, means not being convicted of another offense. Good conduct could also be volunteering, helping out family members, working, going to school, and other similar actions;Misdemeanor convictions require one year of good conduct from the end of the probation or parole; orFelony convictions require two years of good conduct from the end of probation or parole.3) Granting the certificate is consistent with the rehabilitation of the eligible offender. The person seeking the Certificate must show to the court that the person has changed and that the person is rehabilitated.4) The relief to be granted is consistent with the public interest: The person seeking the Certificate must show to the court that granting the CGC would not jeopardize the potential employer or others. For example, if a person wants to work in the schools, it would require a person to show they would not inflict harm on children. Are there any things I can include in my petition and bring to court to help prove good conduct and rehabilitation? Anything that shows a positive change in your life could help prove to the judge that you deserve a Certificate. These documents can include, but are not limited to:Letters of support from family, friends, teachers, former employers, or community members that are signed and dated that discuss as specifically as possible:How long the writer has known youHow they know youHow you have changedPositive things about youOther things that could be included are:Certificates of achievement such as certification programs, community service events, church programs, and much moreAn academic transcriptA clean drug testAn updated resumeIt may also help to bring people into the Certificate hearing as witnesses so they can speak to why you deserve a Certificate. Note: It is important to remember the facts surrounding each arrest and conviction because they may help show the court that you have changed. Some facts to consider are:Your age at the time of the offenseYour circumstances at the time of the offense such as: family issues, financial struggles, living situation, etc.Was the punishment served without further problems? Were there any probation violations?It is also beneficial to have your rap sheet and court disposition for the conviction you are seeking a Certificate for to show the judge. The information is available at the following locations:Court dispositions are available for $9 per case at the Clerk’s Office Rap sheets are available at 3510 S. Michigan, 8-12, Monday through FridayAre there any benefits to an employer for hiring someone with a Certificate? Yes. An employer cannot be held civilly or criminally liable for an act by an employee who has a Certificate. A Certificate is an assurance to the employer that the court has found the person to be rehabilitated. Order criminal records See the Common Questions for information on how to get your criminal records and rap sheet.All criminal records cost money to get. Depending on your prior convictions, you may get your record at:Chicago Police Department – If you have only been arrested in Chicago, you can get your entire criminal history report (“rap sheet”) from the Chicago Police Department Records Department at 3510 S. Michigan Avenue. The cost is $16 and will take about one week from when you are fingerprinted to get your rap sheet;Illinois State Police – You can get a report from the Illinois State Police that includes any case that resulted in a conviction in Illinois (815-740-5160). This is good if you have convictions from outside of Chicago. Go to the Illinois State Police website for more information on getting your records; orClerks of the Court – You can go to the County Clerk of the circuit court where their case was heard and get information for each case. For example, a person with a conviction from Will County will have to contact the clerk of that court to obtain information for that case. For Cook County, the Clerk is on the 10th Floor of the Daley Center.For more information, see Searching Court Records and How to Read My Rap Sheet.Determine if you need a Certificate of Good Conduct or Relief from Disability If you are trying to work in a profession that requires you to be licensed by the Illinois Department of Regulations you may need a Certificate of Relief from Disability. See the "Common Questions" section for a list of licenses that a Certificate of Relief from Disability can be used for.If you are not trying to work in a field that requires you to be licensed by the Illinois Department of Regulations, you need a Certificate of Good Conduct.Determine if you are eligible to get a Certificate Go to the "Common Questions" section to determine if you are eligible for a Certificate. Remember that good conduct over a minimum period is required before you can petition for a Certificate of Good Conduct. This may require you to wait before you can file. However, there is no waiting period once you have been sentenced to petition for a Certificate of Relief for Disability.Get materials that can help support your argument that you have made positive changes There are a variety of things that you can show the judge that can help prove that you deserve a Certificate. These could include:Letters that show you made a turning point in your life. This turning point may have come from the birth of a child, becoming more mature, joining a religion, the death of a friend or family member, an arrest, counseling, or sobriety;Any documents that can show your work history. These could include a resume, letters from an employer, or letters from co-workers. Be prepared to tell the judge any attempts you made to find a job if you have been unemployed;Anything that shows you have been making attempts to improve yourself. This could include getting an education, joining a support program, changing your group of friends, joining a religion, or anything else that can prove you are making attempts to make yourself a better person; andDocuments or letters showing you have a commitment to your family or community. An example may be that you are helping raise your children or grandchildren, in a long term relationship, helping a sick family member, helping a neighbor, volunteering, helping out with your religious affiliation, being a role model, or anything else that benefits your family, neighborhood, or community.Fill out the petition If you are petitioning for a Certificate of Good Conduct, complete the Petition for Certificate of Good Conduct, and if you are petitioning for a Certificate for Relief from Disability complete the Petition for Relief from Disability. You can find both petitions in the “Forms/Letters” section of this guide.Your petition should contain the following:The reasons why you are an eligible offender (see the "Common Questions" section). This will include information about your criminal history;The convictions you are asking to have covered by the Certificate of Good Conduct and the circumstances surrounding these convictions;What you are doing with your life now. Be sure to highlight how you have made changes in your life from the time of your last conviction;What employment bar, if any, you are seeking to have lifted; andWhy a Certificate would be consistent with your rehabilitation and consistent with the public interest.Line 8 of the Certificate petition only has three lines for you to fill in this information. However, three lines are not enough to explain why you deserve a Certificate. You should add separate pieces of paper to your petition and write, “see attached” in the lines on the petition. It is very important that you provide detailed information showing how you have changed your life. In most cases you will not check the box in line 5 of the Petition for a Certificate of Good Conduct, or write anything on these lines. If you have been convicted outside the state of Illinois, you should also provide detailed information about this conviction. Like line 8 of the petition, you should write, “see attached” in the space provided and attach additional pages, so that you have space to thoroughly explain the circumstances of your conviction to the court.Label and attach supporting documents See the "Common Questions" section for some examples of what supporting documents can be used. Attach any documents that you feel support your petition. File with the County Clerk Your petition must be filed with the circuit court in the county of your conviction. When you file your petition, you must bring three copies of the petition with you. In Chicago, Certificate petitions are filed at the 5th floor Clerk’s Office in the Criminal Courthouse at 26 and California.The day you file you will get a court date. The court day will be at least five days from when you file, because the State’s Attorney’s Office must be served with no less than five days notice that you are petitioning for a Certificate of Good Conduct. In Chicago, drop a copy off at the State’s Attorney’s on the 12th Floor. The Certificate hearing When you file your petition, you will be given a court date. The court date is usually one week after the petition is filed.Some important things to remember for your hearing are:Being honest in your Certificate hearing is very important. The judge and Assistant State’s Attorney will be able to see your arrest record so it is important to tell the truth about your past convictions. Be prepared to talk about the situation surrounding your conviction;Be prepared to tell the judge what you are currently doing in your life. Bring a family member or other witness to tell the judge how you live your life in a positive way. Remember, this is not a criminal hearing and there is no need to be too nervous; andMake sure you bring two copies of the appropriate Certificate order to your hearing. Yoc can find a copy of the order in the “Forms/Letters” section of this guide. The judge will need to sign the order if you are a granted a Certificate. Remember, if you filed for a Certificate of Good Conduct bring the Order Granting a Certificate of Good Conduct and if you filed for a Certificate of Relief from Disability bring the Order Granting a Certificate of Relief from Disability. For general information on how to prepare for court, watch the video Courtroom Basics.
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