RECEIVING A PARDON FROM THE GOVERNOR
While criminal convictions can seem like the end all be all, there are numerous ways to lift the burden after a conviction. Some circumstances can allow records to be sealed or erased. There is also the option of Certificate of Rehabilitation. The CR will give future employers and society peace of mind of an individuals rehabilitation. Although it does not wipe your records clean, it will give you the application for a state Governor’s pardon. A pardon will forgive the individual’s crime(s) and the legal consequences. State crimes are the only crimes which can be pardoned by a Governor, whereas federal crimes must be excused by the President.
Normally a pardon is only granted to those who display excellent behavior after a felony conviction. Not everyone who has met the qualifications of a pardon will receive one – it is entirely dependent on the Governor’s will. The Governor bases their decision to grant a pardon on whether or not the defendant has proven themselves to be a law-abiding, useful, and productive citizen. Pardons are not the same as expungements and do not seal your record as pardons are public records themselves. A pardoned individual also cannot claim to have no criminal record.
The receiver of a pardon can, however, say they’ve been pardoned. The pardon will not ensure the prior conviction stays completely out of discussion if the pardoned is convicted of another felony. Certain rights and privileges are excluded from even pardoned felons. For instance, if the use of a deadly weapon was involved in the felony charge, the right to own a firearm is not reinstated with a pardon. A pardoned felon does however retain the right to work as a state parole agent or a county probation officer as well as serve on a jury. In addition, pardons that are granted to some sex offenders allow the individual to be absolved of their duty to register.
THE APPLICATION PROCESS
Before applying for a Governor’s pardon, their are a few requirements that you must meet. The requirements for a felon or sex offender with a misdemeanor cataloged in §290 of the state’s Penal Code, allows the convicted to apply only if they are no longer in custody and have finished conditional release programs such as parole. You are also required to have no subsequent charges since release, and reside in California for 5 years prior to applying for petition.
If all requirements for petition have been obtained, the first step for a Governor’s pardon is the Certificate of Rehabilitation. The documentation for a CR can be found in the court clerk’s or a public defender’s office or the probation department. You must then return the documents to the local superior court. It is also important to alert the district attorneys of the county in which the conviction was made as well as your own. You must include the crimes you would like pardoned in this notice. A hearing will be conducted in order to determine the state of your rehabilitation. If the CR is granted, the inital application for a Governor’s pardon will be complete.
There is no need to worry if you are unable to apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation as there is another path available to receive this pardon – called a traditional pardon. A traditional pardon is usually used by those who aren’t residents of California but have been convicted of a felony in California. Those who have committed a sex offense that renders them unqualified for a CR also can use the traditional pardon. In order to take this path, you must write directly to the Governor’s Office and request an Application for Clemency. The Application for Clemency must then be returned to the same office and a Notice of Intention to Apply for a Traditional Pardon must be sent to the DA.