What is a Certificate of Relief?

1-1What is a Certificate of Relief?

When you are convicted of a crime, the judge orders penalties, which may include jail time, community service, loss of driver’s license, fines, and more. Although you completed the sentence that was handed down, your conviction continues to have a negative impact on your life. One way to resolve your criminal conviction is with a Certificate of Relief. This is a way to improve your life following a conviction. If you qualify, an experienced criminal defense attorney will assist you in working to obtain a Certificate of Relief.


Basics of a Certificate of Relief

A Certificate of Relief is a court order that is granted to some select convicted criminals who meet specific criteria. The Certificate of Relief is based on legislation enacted by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2011. The legislature is designed after the Uniform Collateral Consequences Act, which is in place through the Uniform Law Commission. Most states have enacted similar legislation.


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If a judge orders a Certificate of Relief, the convicted person receives a document stating that they should not be disqualified based on their prior conviction. It does not offer expungement, nor does it remove or pardon prior crimes. The document is basically proof that a person is moving their life in the right direction after having been convicted of crimes. A Certificate of Relief does not change the requirement to register as a sex offender, if applicable, or allow you to obtain a firearm if you are banned from doing so due to a felony conviction.


Criteria for a Certificate of Relief

Not everyone with a criminal conviction is eligible for a Certificate of Relief. To be considered for a Certificate of Relief, you must meet the criteria. Those who are eligible are those who are convicted of three or fewer Class H or I felonies or any misdemeanors. You can petition for a Certificate of Relief only after a full year passes following the completion of your sentence. You must be actively working or seeking employment or in a work training program. Also, you must not be currently charged with a crime and must not be an unreasonable risk.



Petition for a Certificate of Relief

If you meet the criteria, you may submit a petition to the court. Complete form AOC-CR-273, which you can obtain online or by visiting the Office of the Clerk of Superior Court. Once you complete the form, you must file the petition in the county where you were convicted. A hearing will be scheduled during which you can address the court and the victim. The judge, magistrate, or clerk presides over the hearing and will make a determination. Your attorney will help you with the process and may address the court with you at your hearing.


A Certificate of Relief is one option that you may have available to help alleviate some of the repercussions of previous criminal convictions. A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will guide the process and can help improve the likelihood of obtaining a Certificate of Relief. Contact our legal team today at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, at (704) 370-2828 to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.






The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC make it their mission to zealously defend their clients on a wide range of criminal matters at both the state and federal levels. These matters may include any charge from traffic offenses; DWI/DUI; drug charges (from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute and trafficking); gun permit denials; weapons offenses; and property crimes (larceny, breaking and entering, robbery, fraud, embezzlement, white collar offenses); to sexually related offenses (indecent exposure; sexual assault, crimes against nature, removal from sex offender registry); and violent crimes (domestic violence; assault; manslaughter; homicide, murder). Other legal issues that Arnold & Smith, PLLC criminal clients may be facing include restraining orders, restraining order and probation violations, expungements; appeals; and immigration issues related to criminal charges. Our criminal defense attorneys are passionate about ensuring that individuals empower themselves by being informed about their constitutional rights, and stand at the ready to fight in the defense of those facing criminal charges.



Certificate Of Relief Petition And Order; Instructions For Certificate Of Relief Petition And Order | North Carolina Judicial Branch (nccourts.gov)

Certificates of Relief | UNC School of Government


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