- Certificates of good conduct
- Certificates of relief from disability
Who can apply?
You are eligible unless you have been convicted of one of the following:
- Arson or aggravated arson,
- Kidnapping or aggravated kidnapping,
- Aggravated driving under the influence (DUI),
- Aggravated domestic battery, or
- Any offense or attempted offense that requires registration under the Sex Offender Registration Act, the Arsonist Registration Act, or the Murder and Violent Offender Against Youth Registration Act.
When can I apply?
Certificate of good conduct
two years from the end of the sentence of a felony offense, or one year for a misdemeanor. The end of the sentence is the date you finished probation, got a conditional discharge, or were released from parole.
Certificate of relief from disability
Anytime after the end of the sentence.
How does it help me?
Certificate of good conduct
Helps you get a job that you would otherwise not be able to because of a law blocking you from that job. Examples include the Illinois School Code, the Park District Code, and the Metropolitan Transit Act.
Certificate of relief from disability
Helps you get a license that you need to get certain types of jobs. Laws that require licenses include:
- Animal Welfare Act,
- Illinois Athletic Trainers Practice Act,
- Barber, Cosmetology, Esthetics, and Nail Technology Act of 1985,
- Boiler and Pressure Vessel Repairer Regulation Act,
- Professional Boxing Act,
- Illinois Certified Shorthand Reporters Act of 1984,
- Illinois Farm Labor Contractor Certification Act,
- Interior Design Title Act,
- Illinois Professional Land Surveyor Act of 1989,
- Illinois Landscape Architecture Act of 1989,
- Marriage and Family Therapy Licensing Act,
- Private Employment Agency Act,
- Professional Counselor and Clinical Professional Counselor Licensing Act,
- Real Estate License Act of 2000,
- Illinois Roofing Industry Licensing Act,
- Professional Engineering Practice Act,
- Water Well and Pump Installation Contractors License Act,
- Electrologist Licensing Act,
- Auction License Act,
- Illinois Architecture Practice Act of 1989,
- Dietetic and Nutrition Services Practice Act,
- Environmental Health Practitioner Licensing Act,
- Funeral Director and Embalmers Licensing Code,
- Land Sales Registration Act of 1999,
- Professional Geologist Licensing Act,
- Illinois Public Accounting Act,
- Structural Engineering Practice Act of 1989.
How do I apply?
To apply, you must file a petition in a circuit court. Unfortunately, petitions can be very hard to fill out. So you should talk to a lawyer if you plan on filing a petition. Click "Get Legal Help" for help finding a legal self-help center based on your location.
What goes into a petition?
A petition should include Information about your criminal record, including a record of arrests and prosecutions (RAP sheet), court dispositions, and any other supporting court documents.
You should also include what type of job or license you are trying to get with your certificate.
Finally, you should include proof of your rehabilitation, and why you deserve a certificate.
How should I prepare for court?
It is important to get everything organized before you go in front of a judge. You should get all of your documents together, and prepare to talk about the following things:
- Your criminal history information,
- Your background, and
- Evidence showing proof of your “rehabilitation.”
Below are notes on how to address your conviction, what to focus on to prove rehabilitation, suggested documents to gather, and ways to talk about specific employment barriers, if needed.
Criminal history information
The judge will want to see what is on the criminal record. This includes court dispositions. In Cook County, you can get court dispositions for $9 per case from the Clerk’s Office. Go to Room 1006 at the Daley Center or the 5th Floor at 26th & California.
Also, if cases are in Chicago, the judge will want to see your Chicago Police Department RAP Sheet (from 35th & Michigan, $16 fee, Monday through Friday, 8-12, Pick-Up is one week later).
Evidence of “rehabilitation.”
The judge needs to know that you are worthy of having a certificate granted. The judge will need to know information about your life, about your struggles and your accomplishments. Have information ready about your educational and employment history. This includes your resume, degrees or certificates, letters from teachers or past employers.
Talk about what you do in the community. This includes volunteering and being active in your community, plus letters from family, church or other organizations.
Specific employment barriers
If you are seeking a certificate for a specific employment barrier, talk about why you are otherwise qualified for the job. For example, you have training in that field, or you have history working in that field. Include information if you have been denied an opportunity already because of your record.
Guidelines for letters of support
It is very beneficial for people to include letters of support with their requests for relief through the court or administrative agencies. The letter should be written in paragraph form and have three basic parts:
Introduce yourself – who you are, what you do for a living, etc.
How do you know this person? Are you a family member, friend, co-worker, church member? How long have you known this person? How often do you interact with him/her? In what types of activities do you participate together?
If you have known this person for a long time, how have you seen him/her grow and change?
How has this person made a positive impact on your life and the lives of others? Be specific! Don’t just say he or she is a good person; give examples of how he or she is a good person. What can you say about his or her character? Give specific examples of how they have exhibited these traits. Include any relevant information of which you have first-hand knowledge about his or her strengths as a parent, as a member of the family, friend, co-worker, or community member.
- “Mr. Smith has been a dedicated coach of his son’s park district basketball team for the last five years.”
- “Ms. Johnson and I teach Sunday School together at our church, St. John’s.”
- “Ms. Grant has been a loyal friend to me for the past ten years, always offering to babysit my children when necessary and opening up her home to welcome my family and me.”
- “Ms. Richards suffered for many years from addiction and wasn’t part of our lives, but she is now.”
Note: Always sign the letter & include a phone number or e-mail address. Please type the letter if possible. If you work at a particular organization or church that has letterhead, it is helpful to print the letter on that letterhead.
Updated: May 2017