Need help getting a job? A North Carolina Certificate of Relief could help

A certificate of relief removes some of the civil disabilities that arise from a criminal conviction, especially in the employment context. Below is a brief description of the benefits, eligibility, procedures, and evidentiary standards for certificates of relief in North Carolina.  If you need help getting a job and an expungement is not available then a Certificate of Relief Might Help.  If you believe you are eligible for a certificate of relief, please call the law Offices of Wiley Nickel at 919-585-1486.


Transforms all automatic civil disabilities into discretionary civil disabilities, EXCEPT:

-          Sex offender registration

-          Possession of a firearm by a felon

-          Motor vehicle license, revocation, or ineligibility

-          Criminal Justice Officer and Sheriffs certification

-          Employment as corrections or probation officer

-          Employment as prosecutor or investigator in NCDOJ or District Attorney’s Office

-          Any disability enacted by federal law or in the NC Constitution

-          Considered favorably in discretionary decisions (ex. most occupational licensing decisions)

-          Provides evidence of due care to private employers in negligent hiring lawsuits

-          Demonstrates that the recipient is not an “unreasonable risk to the safety or welfare of the public”


Certificate of Relief is NOT an expunction or pardon

-          An individual granted a certificate of relief still has a criminal conviction on their record that is visible to anyone.




-          1 misdemeanor or 1 Class G, H, or I felony conviction= eligible

-          2 misdemeanor or 2 Class G, H, or I felony convictions (convicted in same session of court)= eligible

-          2 or more convictions in different sessions= not eligible

-          1 Class A, B, C, D, E, or F felony conviction= not eligible




-          A Petition and Order for a Certificate of Relief is filed with the court by our office. 

-          A district attorney may appear at the hearing; the victim of the underlying crime may also appear


Evidentiary Standard


-          Petitioner must prove by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not):

-          Twelve months have passed since the person completed his or her sentence

-          The person is engaged in or is seeking to engage in a lawful occupation or activity

-          The person has no criminal charges pending

-          The person has complied with all requirements of the person’s sentence

-          Granting the petition would not pose an unreasonable risk to the safety or welfare of the public or any individual


Wiley Nickel

Wiley Nickel lives and works in Cary, North Carolina. In 1998, he graduated from Tulane University with a major in Political Science and a minor in History. After college Wiley went to work for Al Gore and travelled with the Vice President as part of his national advance staff. Following the Gore campaign he earned his law degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law in 2005. While in law school Wiley worked as a law clerk in the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office where he gained valuable criminal trial experience before taking and passing the California bar exam. His first job out of law school was for the Merced County District Attorney’s Office where he worked as a Deputy District Attorney with a focus on prosecuting DWI offenders. Wiley later joined the Law Offices of Joseph Uremovic where he focused on civil litigation and family law. When the opportunity came to join the Obama campaign in 2008 Wiley jumped at the chance. He spent three years travelling with President Obama as a member of his national advance team. In 2011 Wiley left his work for the White House to return to the practice of law. Wiley devotes the majority of his practice to the areas of criminal law, family law, traffic tickets and DMV issues. The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel was started with the goal of providing the best representation possible for all of his clients. Experienced, Compassionate, Aggressive Criminal Defense While defense attorney Wiley Nickel works as the primary attorney for all of his cases, he does have an associate attorney, a team of investigators, forensic consultants, and support staff to call on to help achieve the best possible result in every case. He limits his case load so that he can focus on providing the best possible legal defense to all of his clients. Every case is a top priority and the goal is to have your case dismissed with a focus on being able to expunge your charges at the end of the process. When he is not working, Wiley is an avid family man, distance runner and golfer. He loves North Carolina college sports and is hoping this is the year for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Wiley is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and California.