Pardon -

       A California Governor's pardon is a very rare occurrence. Generally it is limited to persons who have suffered a felony conviction or certain misdemeanor sex offenses. Usually the application must be preceded by a minimum of 10 years of useful, productive, and law-abiding life after the person has completed probation or parole.

       Most people will try to get a pardon for purposes of licensing, bonding or other employment reasons. Usually a person must first get the Certificate of Rehabilitation.

Certificate of Rehabilitation

       The normal first step to obtain a pardon is to obtain a Certificate of Rehabilitation from the Superior Court in the county where the person lives at the time of the application. As an alternative a person can make a direct application for a pardon.

An instructional guide on how to apply for a pardon in California can be found at: to apply for a pardon.pdf

Why Obtain a Pardon

       Most people will try to obtain a pardon so that they can apply for state licenses, obtain bonding or for other possible employment related purposes. Some people will apply solely for purposes of demonstrating a complete change in their lives. You do not need a pardon in order to vote. Under California Constitution, Art. II, sec. 4, a person is eligible to vote after completion of probation or parole. However, a pardon is necessary before a person is entitled to serve on a jury.

       Under California law, a person convicted of a felony cannot own or possess firearms. (Penal Code §12021). A person who receives a full pardon can possess a lawful firearm under the laws of California, unless the person was convicted of a crime involving the use of a dangerous weapon. (Penal Code §4854). However, it is important to know that a pardon in California has no effect on the limitations on possession of weapons that arise under federal law or the laws of other states.

The Governor and Pardon

       The decision on whether to grant a pardon or not lies solely with the Governor. The granting of a pardon does not seal the conviction nor does it result in a dismissal of charges. The conviction and the pardon become a part of the public record.

Other Jurisdictions

       A pardon can only be obtained for a California conviction. If you suffered a conviction in another state or you have a federal conviction, then you must apply to the other jurisdiction, either the other state or to the federal authorities. Information on applying for a federal pardon can be obtained from the Pardon Attorney, US Department of Justice, 500 First St. Northwest, Washington, DC.

- Written by , Attorney at Law





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