A Certificate of Rehabilitation is a court order which declares that a person who has been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor has been rehabilitated. It does not seal, destroy or expunge your record. However, it does have many benefits.
A Certificate of Rehabilitation allows those individuals that have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor who served a state prison sentence an opportunity to demonstrate to employers, family and friends that they have turned over a new leaf and are now considered rehabilitated by the state of California. Additionally, California Penal Code Section 4582 permits individuals who were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors that require registration as a sex offender pursuant to Penal Code section 290 to apply for a certificate of rehabilitation. Obtaining this certificate may terminate the requirement to register as a sex offender and can help you if you are seeking a professional or occupational license.
Most importantly, a Certificate of Rehabilitation implies that one is now considered rehabilitated by the state of California and once granted by the court, acts as an automatic application for a governor’s pardon.
This procedure generally takes approximately two to six months, depending on the court the petition is filed in and the complexity of the case.
There are many benefits to obtaining a California Certificate of Rehabilitation:
- It prevents any state licensing agency from automatically denying you a license solely based on the fact you are a convicted felon.
- When the court grants a Certificate of Rehabilitation, the order will act as an automatic application for a full governor’s pardon.
- It will also prevent prior felony convictions from being used to impeach your credibility as a witness as long as your application for a governor’s pardon is also approved.
- A California Certificate of Rehabilitation relieves certain sex offenders of their obligation to register as a sex offender under California Penal Code 290.
The benefits of obtaining a California Governor’s Pardon include:
- It allows an ex-felon to serve on a jury (see Code Civ. Proc. §203(a)(5);
- It provides for restoration of firearm rights, with federal approval, to specified offenders if granted full and unconditional pardon, unless the conviction was for a felony involving the use of a dangerous weapon (see Penal Code §4854)
- It allows certain ex-felons to be considered for appointment as a county probation officer or state parole agent, but not to any other peace officer positions (see Gov. Code §1029)
- It allows specified sex offenders who are still required to register after obtaining a Certificate of Rehabilitation to be relieved of the duty to register (see Penal Code §290.5(b)(1)).
Feel free to call our office to speak with an attorney and discuss the many benefits of obtaining a Certificate of Rehabilitation and/or Governor’s Pardon. In most counties, we offer a free Record Analysis Report and will provide you with a comprehensive summary of your legal options.
- The attorneys at Goodman & Dicus will gather information about your case from a variety of sources. Sometimes, we will require that you obtain a copy of your Department of Justice (DOJ) Rap Sheet.
- You will be required to answer several questions about your life since your release from probation or parole. Our attorneys will review your responses and analyze all of the available information related to your case.
- Our office will prepare the petition for your Certificate of Rehabilitation, all applicable supporting documents, and notices.
- We will then file the petition with the appropriate California Superior Court and serve the Governor, the District Attorney’s office in your county of residence, and the District Attorney’s office in the county where the convictions occurred.
- A hearing will always be scheduled. Depending on the county where we are filing the petition, the hearing may be scheduled in two to six months. In some counties, there are two hearings. The first hearing is where all parties come together, the judge orders an investigation done, and everyone agrees on a future hearing date.
- The District Attorney’s office or Probation will typically do an investigation, and provide the judge with a report sometime prior to the hearing. Our office will get a copy of this report prior to the hearing date so that we may anticipate any challenges to the petition.
- At the final hearing, the judge will consider arguments from both sides, and then rule on the petition.
- After your petition is granted it will immediately be forwarded to the California Governor’s office with a recommendation from the court that you be granted a full pardon.
* Note that because each case is unique and there are some procedural differences for each county in California your case may not follow our process outline exactly.
What is a California Certificate of Rehabilitation?
A certificate of rehabilitation is a court order declaring that an individual previously convicted of a felony or misdemeanor sex offense in California has now been rehabilitated. It acts as an automatic application and recommendation for a governor’s pardon. Once the court grants a certificate of rehabilitation, the court automatically sends the signed order of the certificate to the governor of California where it taken under consideration by the governor’s office. While the Certificate of Rehabilitation is the trial court’s recommendation that the individual be pardoned, the governor ultimately has complete discretion whether or not to grant the pardon.
Am I eligible to Apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation?
In order to be eligible for a Certificate of Rehabilitation, the following must be true:
- You have been convicted of a felony or convicted of a misdemeanor sex offense under Section 290 of the California Penal Code;
- The conviction must have occurred in California;
- Any felony convictions that are eligible for dismissal under Penal Code 1203.4 (i.e. expungement), must be first dismissed/expunged;
- You must have lived in California for five years, and you must have lived an “honest and upright life” since for the required statutory time period since your release from custody.
You are not eligible for a certificate of rehabilitation if the conviction was a misdemeanor not listed in Penal Code 290, you were convicted of a sex crime from Penal Code 286(c), 288, 288a(c), 288.5, or 289(j), you received a life sentence, or you are in the military.
Will a Certificate of Rehabilitation eliminate my requirement to register under Penal Code 290?
In many cases, obtaining a Certificate of Rehabilitation will eliminate the requirement that one register under Penal Code 290. However, there are some notable exceptions.
Per Penal Code 290.5(a)(2), if you were convicted of one of the following Penal Code offenses (or the attempt to commit one of these offenses), a Certificate of Rehabiliatation alone will not end your requirement to register:
- Section 207 or 209 with the attempt to violate Section 261, 286, 288, 288a, or 289;
- Section 220, except assault to commit mayhem;
- Section 243.4, provided that the offense is a felony;
- Paragraph (1), (2), (3), (4), or (6) of subdivision (a) of Section 261;
- Section 264.1;
- Section 266, provided that the offense is a felony;
- Section 266c, provided that the offense is a felony;
- Section 266j;
- Section 267;
- Section 269;
- Paragraph (1) of subd. (b) of Section 286, provided thta the offense is a felony;
- Pargraph (2) of subd. (b) of, or subdivision (c), (d), (f), (g), (i), (j), or (k) of, Section 286
- Section 288
- Paragraph (1) of subd. (b) of Section 288a, provided thta the offense is a felony;
- Paragraph (2) of subd. (b) of, or subdivision (c), (d), (f), (g), (i), (j), or (k) of, Section 288a
- Section 288.5;
- Subdivision (a), (b), (d), (e), (f), (g), or (h) of Section 289, provided that the offense is a felony;
- Subdivision (i) or (j) of Setion 289
- Section 647.6;
- The statutory predecessor of any of the offenses specified above.
If a person has been convicted of one of the offeses listed above, they will not be relieved of the duty to register unless they are granted a full pardon. The granting a Certificate of Rehabilitation acts as an application and recommendation for a governor’s pardon.
How does the Application Process Work?
If you are eligible to apply for a certificate of rehabilitation, we will correspond with you to get all of your information. Then, we will draft and file a petition, which includes all forms and other necessary documents with the appropriate California Superior Court. Next, our attorneys will serve a copy to the district attorney where the crime occurred, in the county where you currently reside, and where we are filing the petition. The district attorney and probation department will then conduct a background check on you and file their opposition. Next, we will call the district attorney to get their position on the case. Then, one of our attorneys will appear at a hearing that will take place in court and argue all evidence in your favor. The judge will consider all of the evidence and all the reasons for and against granting the certificate of rehabilitation. If the petition is granted, the court will immediately forward the certificate to the California Governor, where it becomes an application for a pardon.
Obtained a Certificate of Rehabilitation for Penal Code 290 offense in Orange County
Client was convicted of Penal Code 261.5 in 2002. His misdemeanor conviction was expunged in 2007, as is necessary when applying for a Certificate of Rehabilitation. On December, 2012 the judge at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana, CA signed an order stating that our client had been rehabilitated. His petition was immediately forwarded to the Governor’s office as an automatic Pardon application. We submitted a copy of the Certificate of Rehabilitation to the Department of Justice so that he would be relieved of his duty to register under Penal Code 290.
Client was granted a Certificate of Rehabilitation in San Diego County with petition forwarded to governor’s office with recommendation for full pardon
Client was ineligible for expungement because he had served a prison sentence for armed robbery. The Certificate of Rehabilitation was necessary because our client desired a contractor’s license with the state of California. In November, 2012, the judge commended our client on having lived an honest and upright life since his release from prison, and forwarded his petition to the governor’s office with a recommendation that a full pardon be granted.