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Governor's Pardons -California

The Governor of California regularly issues pardons to individuals convicted of crimes in the state. A pardon demonstrates that the individual has led a law abiding life since his or her conviction. The pardon restores certain rights and abilities, such as:
• The ability to serve on a jury,
• Removal from the sex offender registration list (under certain circumstances),
• The right to possess firearms legally permissible in California (if the crime did not involve firearms),
• The ability to be hold certain government jobs, and
• The ability to obtain certain professional licenses.

While a pardon does alleviate much of the stigma of a conviction, it does not completely remove the conviction from your record. A pardon does not:
• Seal or expunge the record of a conviction,
• Allow an individual to deny being convicted of a crime on a job application (although the individual can state that he or she has been pardoned), or
• Restore the right to vote (felons convicted in California regain the right to vote automatically after being discharged of parole or probation).

There are two methods to obtaining a pardon in California. The first involves obtaining a Certificate of Rehabilitation. The second way involves appealing to the Governor directly for a pardon.

Certificate of Rehabilitation

Eligible individuals can apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation, which may lead to the granting of a pardon. This certificate is issued by a court and states that the individual has successfully been rehabilitated. To be eligible, an individual typically must have:
• Been convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanor sex offenses,
• Been discharged from custody, parole and probation,
• Resided in California for the previous five years, and
• Been discharged from custody, parole and probation for a period of seven to ten years depending on the crime.

If the court issues the Certificate of Rehabilitation, it can be forwarded to the Governor to request a pardon. If the Governor grants the pardon, the individuals rights will be restored as described above.

Traditional Pardon

An individual may be ineligible for a Certificate of Rehabilitation if they've been convicted of a misdemeanor, certain sex offenses, or if enough time has not passed since the conviction. In that case, a Traditional Pardon may be obtained. This is done by applying directly to the Governor, illustrating what exceptional circumstances justify the granting of a pardon.

Presidential Pardons

Under certain circumstances, applying for a Presidential Pardon may be appropriate. This pardon comes directly from the Offices of the President of the United States. The President can only pardon federal and military crimes, however, not state crimes. Therefore most individuals should look to their state governor for a pardon.

Among other things, the Presidential Pardon will:
• Restore the right to possess firearms (in accordance with state law),
• Prevent the deportation of an alien based upon the pardoned crime, and
• Suspend the payment of restitution under certain circumstances.

Like a Governor's Pardon, a Presidential Pardon does not seal or expunge criminal convictions. There are also many eligibility restrictions, including a minimum five-year waiting period after completion of the sentence.

An Attorney Experienced in Pardons

Obtaining a pardon requires legal expertise and can take a lot of time and effort.
Seth P. Chazin has over 20 years of experience and has obtained many Certificates of Rehabilitation for his clients. He has had virtually 100% success in obtaining Certificates of Rehabilitation. Not all convictions are eligible for these remedies. Call NOW at 1-800-499-9902 to find out if your case qualifies!


“The death penalty is a lie, a misguided mistake born of anger and frustration. Capital punishment has become a perverse monument to inequality, to how some lives matter and others do not. It is a violent example of how we protect and value the rich and abandon and devalue the poor. The death penalty is a grim, disturbing shadow formed by the legacy of racial apartheid and bias against the poor that condemns the disfavored among us, but corrupts us all. It’s the perverse symbol elected officials use to strengthen their ‘tough on crime’ reputations and distract us from confronting the causes of violence. It is finally the enemy of grace, redemption and all of us who recognize that each person is more than their worse act.”
- Bryan Stevenson