If you were convicted of a felony and confined in a state prison, institution, or agency, on MAY 13, 1943 OR AFTER, you may file for a certificate of rehabilitation (CR) and a governor’s pardon if you can show the following:
(1) Resided continuously in California, after leaving prison for the five years immediately preceding the filing of this CR petition;
(2) Completed the applicable rehabilitation period set forth in the code;
(3) Exhibit good moral character as enumerated above.
If you were convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor sex offense specified in PC Section 290, and you were placed on probation, you may file a petition for certificate of rehabilitation and a governor’s pardon if you meet all the requirements.
(1) You have obtained a relief under PC 1203.4 (commonly referred to as an “expungement”);
(2) You have not been incarcerated in any prison, jail, detention facility, or other penal institution or agency after your expungement was granted;
(3) Not currently on probation for any other felony;
(4) Completed the applicable rehabilitation period;
(5) Exhibit good moral character.
In California, the granting of a CR petition or a Governor’s pardon restores to the applicant some rights of citizenship that were forfeited as a result of a felony conviction. A CR relieves some sex offenders the duty to register. Having your CR application will enhance a person’s potential for getting back their professional license lost as a result of a felony conviction. For individuals who were sentenced to serve in state prison, a CR petition is the only avenue of rehabilitation.
When the court grants the petition, it is an official document demonstrating to prospective employers of a person’s rehabilitation and will greatly enhance employment opportunities. Once granted, it is also an automatic application for a gubernatorial pardon.
What does a Governor’s pardon do? It allows a felon to serve on a jury trial (Code of Civil Procedure Section 203(a)(5). It restores firearms rights, upon federal approval, to specified offenders if granted a full and unconditional pardon, unless the conviction was for a felony involving use of a dangerous weapon (PC Section 4854) Allow specified sex offenders to be relieved of duty to register if granted a full pardon (PC Section 290.5). For those facing deportation removal proceedings or applying for citizenship, a CR or a gubernatorial pardon may prevent deportation and will be positively favored by the Department of Homeland Security demonstrating a person’s rehabilitation.
This process is complex and requires proper documentation to be filed and notice to be served on the court and the proper entities. In fact, in the County of Los Angeles, only one court in downtown hears all petitions for CR. Since this petition requires a hearing, having a close working relationship with both the court and the prosecutor who oversees all these petitions is an asset.
Thirty days written notice of the hearing date on your petition must be give to the district attorney of the county in which you filed the petition; the district attorney of each county in which you were convicted of a felony or of an offense that was dismissed pursuant to PC Section 1203.4 and the office of the Governor must be served. (PC Section 4852.07)
On the hearing date, the Petitioner and attorney must appear in court. If the court grants the Petition, the Criminal Clerks’ Office will send a certified copy of the Certificate of Rehabilitation to the Governor. The certified copy of the Certificate becomes an application to the Governor for a full pardon. The Governor will decide whether or not to issue the pardon.
Since the stakes are so high, an experienced criminal defense attorney who has handled such matters must be sought after. Procedural rules must be followed strictly. Otherwise, the Petition will be denied.