Certificates of Rehabilitation and Pardon In California

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Many people convicted of felonies in California fear that their criminal records will follow them all of their lives, creating hurdles to employment, housing, education, and other opportunities. However, there are several post-conviction relief options that may be available, including a certificate of rehabilitation and pardon. The experienced post-conviction relief lawyers of The Kavinoky Law Firm will evaluate each case to determine whether a California certificate of rehabilitation and pardon may be obtainable.

Certificates of rehabilitation are first sought from the trial court and are the first step in the pardon process. If a certificate is issued, the trial court will recommend that the governor grant a pardon. The governor has the discretion to grant or deny a pardon, unless the individual has multiple felony convictions. In that case, the pardon will require additional approval from the state Supreme Court.

Certificates of rehabilitation are what they sound like— a formal finding that a person is rehabilitated and should be relieved of the burdens of a prior felony conviction. The process of obtaining a certificate of rehabilitation and/or pardon is lengthy and must be done with the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Prior convictions can have impact many aspects of life. Most post-conviction relief is limited and provides only partial relief to cleansing a criminal record. Expungement for example, has several key limitations and will neither restore gun possession rights nor alleviate registration as a sex offender under Penal Code 290. Only a pardon can address these consequences.

A governor’s pardon is granted only to individuals who have demonstrated a high standard of constructive behavior following conviction for a felony, or in some cases, for certain specified misdemeanor sex offenses. Obtaining a pardon is a distinct achievement based upon proof of a useful, productive, and law-abiding life following a conviction. California Penal Code section 4852.05 states, “During the period of rehabilitation, the person shall live an honest and upright life, shall conduct himself or herself with sobriety and industry, shall exhibit a good moral character, and shall conform to and obey the laws of the land.”

In general, pardon applications will not be considered unless an applicant has been discharged from probation or parole for at least 10 years and has not engaged in further criminal activity. While the receipt of a certificate of rehabilitation is persuasive in evaluating a pardon application, it is but one of many factors in the governor’s decision to grant the pardon. The 10-year rule may be waived in truly exceptional circumstances, if the applicant can demonstrate an earlier, specific need for the pardon.

A certificate of rehabilitation and pardon can truly transform the life of an individual convicted of a felony in California. To learn more about California certificates of rehabilitation and pardons and other forms of post-conviction relief, contact The Kavinoky Law Firm today for a free consultation.

Darren Kavinoky
Darren Kavinoky
Founder at 1-800-NoCuffs
Darren Kavinoky is the founder of 1.800.NoCuffs–The Kavinoky Law Firm and is known as an award-winning criminal defense attorney.

The American Trial Lawyers Association has named him one of the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in California” each year since 2007. Los Angeles magazine has identified Darren as a “SuperLawyer” every year since 2010. Darren received an “AV Preeminent Rating” by Martindale-Hubbell (a peer review ranking that signals the highest level of professional excellence and ethics); a perfect 10.0 Rating by Avvo.com (an independent attorney ranking site), and many other accolades.