Governor’s Pardon: Rare but Invaluable Tool
A pardon is an opportunity given to a convicted felon to show they have undergone full rehabilitation for the crime they were convicted of. If a convicted criminal is awarded a pardon, it can restore many personal and civil rights that they were denied due to the conviction.
First, the convict must show that they have been rehabilitated and are now leading an honest life that upholds the law. The current governor grants a pardon in California unless you have been convicted of multiple felonies. A pardon comes in handy when you are expected to disclose your prior conviction as the Certificate of Rehabilitation (COR) proves that you have reformed.
Which Rights Does a Pardon Restore?
If you are granted a pardon, the following rights will be restored:
- 2nd Amendment right to own and possess a firearm (unless your conviction involved using a dangerous weapon.)
- You can serve on jury duty in a California court
- You are not obligated to register as a sex offender
- You have a right to apply for a state professional license
- You can serve as a probation officer or a state parole officer
What Are the Limitations to a Pardon?
A pardon does not ensure that all your rights and limitations are restored. Here are some of the restrictions:
- If you are convicted of an offense after the pardon has been granted, your prior conviction will be used against you to challenge your credibility and prolong the sentence imposed.
- You can be deported if you are an undocumented immigrant or be denied a green card or a visa.
- If your felony conviction includes using a dangerous weapon, your right to possess a firearm is denied.
- If you apply for citizenship or employment, your criminal records will be disclosed as they are not sealed or destroyed.
- You cannot serve as a peace officer.
What Should You Include in a Pardon Application?
There are two distinct methods for applying for a pardon. In the first method, you can apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation which automatically makes you eligible for a pardon, or seek a pardon by using Executive Clemency.
You could apply for a COR if you were convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor charge that did not require registering as a sex offender. Also, it would be best if you met the following criteria:
- To have resided in California for five years continuously
- You aren’t facing any other conviction since you were released
- At least seven years have passed since you were released from prison
- You are not on probation for any other felony
- You can prove that you have been rehabilitated and deserving of your civil and political rights to be restored
If you are applying for a direct pardon, your application should be detailed and honest. First, describe all the activities and programs you actively participated in while in prison, on parole, or after you met all the conditions for your probation.
The conditions for parole or probation include;
- Steady employment
- Participation in church and community activities
- Any volunteer efforts
- Completing a substance abuse counseling program
- Being present in your family members’ lives
- Any educational certificates earned
Your application must include the following key details:
- Personal information to identify you
- All the criminal convictions you have, regardless of the state
- The circumstances of the crime for which you are seeking a pardon for
- The reason for requesting the pardon
- Why you should be granted the pardon
After writing the application, you can either submit it to the California Superior Court where you were sentenced to your conviction or apply directly by submitting a Notice of Intent to Apply for Executive Clemency to the District Attorney. After notice is given, you can now go ahead and send it to the Office of the California Governor. An investigation will follow to gather information on the person’s criminal history, their efforts towards rehabilitation, and their disciplinary record while in prison or probation.
A person’s chance of being granted a pardon lies in the facts of their case. Therefore, if a person committed a less serious crime and has shown significant improvements in their rehabilitation, they stand a higher chance of getting a pardon.
Do You Need a Pardon?
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Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Attorney who has over 21 years of practice defending a variety of cases.