IS IT POSSIBLE TO RESTORE AN OCCUPATIONAL LICENSE OR A PUBLIC BENEFIT FOLLOWING A CONVICTION?

Attorney Lance Williams

Attorney Lance Williams

Being convicted of a crime is bad enough but sometimes it will mean the loss of an occupational license or a benefit when that license or benefit is regulated by a state or federal agency. If you’ve lost an occupational license or benefit due to a criminal conviction, a Certificate of Relief may be the answer.

Expungements are available for some convictions, for the convictions that are not eligible a Certificate of Relief if granted by the court can restore licensing and benefit rights in spite of the conviction. With so many laws and regulations on the books it is hard to tell what the long-term results of a conviction will be without some help. Fortunately the UNC School of Government has a handy database to assess the collateral consequences of a conviction before you make the decision to fight a criminal charge or enter a guilty plea. The C-CAT or Collateral Consequences Assessment Tool is available on-line at ccat.sog.unc.edu. If you enter the type of crime it will show you a list of potential occupational license revocations and government benefit disqualifications.

For example, a simple misdemeanor possession of marijuana conviction will lead to the loss of an occupational license for; childcare providers for state subsidized programs, ABC permits, bail bonds, taxi drivers, massage therapist and many others. It could also remove them from public housing and lead to disqualification for many other types of public assistance.  A felony possession charge can take away all state childcare and housing benefits in addition to the loss of an occupational license.

To qualify for a Certificate Of Relief, the conviction cannot be for more than two level G, H or I felonies or misdemeanors in one session of court. The applicant cannot have any convictions other than traffic, and 12 months has to have passed from the end of any active sentence, probation, or parole.  Unless the applicant can show a lawful source of support, they must be seeking employment, training for an occupation or in a rehabilitative program. They cannot have any pending criminal charges, and must be in full compliance with the terms of the original sentencing.

A formal background check must be conducted by the SBI to ensure eligibility then the petition must be served on the District Attorney’s Office and it must include any documents or witness statements that will be used in the hearing. The District Attorney has the right to oppose the petition and will contact any victim’s so that they may participate in the hearing if they choose. A judge has the authority to relieve the petitioner from all sanctions and disqualifications or to limit it to particular ones. The Certificate of Relief cannot be used to restore firearm disqualifications or give relief from sex offender registrations.

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