California

Guide to Getting a Certificate of Rehabilitation in California

December 28, 2020 by Mikel Rastegar in California  Criminal Defense  
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This is The Road to Recovery

In Getting a Certificate of Rehabilitation, expungement is not an option for many Californians who are convicted of felonies, including sex crime convictions. But, the good news is that there is another option that offers many of the same benefits as expungement.

It’s called a Certificate of Rehabilitation.

What is a “Certificate of Rehabilitation?”

 

In California, a Certificate of Rehabilitation (COR) is a type of post-conviction relief the court can issue under Penal Code Sections 4852.01-4852.21. 

The certificate attests to a convicted felon’s rehabilitation. 

A California Governor’s Pardon is granted to people who demonstrate they have been rehabilitated after a criminal conviction.

 
To obtain a Certificate of Rehabilitation, a judge must find that a person has been rehabilitated after a criminal conviction. Obtaining a certificate of rehabilitation in California acts as an automatic application for a California Governor’s Pardon. A California Governor’s Pardon is granted to people who demonstrate they have been rehabilitated after a criminal conviction. 

Benefits of a Certificate of Rehabilitation

In addition to the automatic application for a governor’s pardon, there are other benefits associated with a California Certificate of Rehabilitation, including: 

  • In addition to the automatic application for a governor’s pardon, there are other benefits associated with a California Certificate of Rehabilitation, including: 
  • In certain instances, the COR will mark the end of a convicted sex offender’s duty to register as a California sex offender
  • Serves as official proof that a person has been rehabilitated to the satisfaction of the state criminal justice system

It’s important to note that the Pardon and Commutation Reform Act of 2018, also known as AB 2845, amends Gov C §12952 so that, with limited exceptions, an employer with five or more employees is forbidden from considering or asking about convictions where the person has received a pardon or certificate of rehabilitation. However, the provision does not apply where the law requires that a background check be conducted.

How to get a Certificate of Rehabilitation

People sentenced to state prison or county jail under California’s realignment program are eligible to apply for a COR as long as they meet the following requirements:

  • They have not been re-incarcerated since their release
  • They have continuously been a California resident for at least five years since their release or three years if they were on parole
  • They can demonstrate proof of rehabilitation since their release
  • Not on probation for being convicted of another felony
  • They served felony probation or were convicted of a misdemeanor sex offense under Penal Code 290 that has since been expunged
  • Further time has passed depending on the nature of the offense

If any of the following apply to you, you are not eligible for a COR:

  • You have been convicted of a misdemeanor (other than a sex offense specified in Penal Code 290)
  • You are serving mandatory life parole
  • You have received a death sentence
  • You are in the military
  • You committed a federal crime or a crime in a jurisdiction other than California
  • You have been convicted of one or more of the following sex crimes:
    • Penal Code 286(c), sodomy with a child or sodomy by force or threat
    • Penal Code 288, lewd acts with a child under the age of 14
    • Penal Code 287(c), oral copulation with a child or oral copulation by force or threat
    • Penal Code 288.5, continuous sexual abuse of a child
    • Penal Code 289(j), forcible sexual penetration of a child

When can I apply for a California Certificate of Rehabilitation?

In addition to the above-mentioned minimum five-year continuous California residency requirement and the additional two years, people convicted of the following must wait an additional four years:

  • Any sentence that carries a life sentence
  • Homicide under Penal Code 187 
  • Aggravated kidnapping under Penal Code 209 
  • Train derailing or crashing under Penal Code 219
  • Acts that involve explosives or destructive devices causing mayhem, great bodily injury, or death
  • Assault with force likely to result in great bodily injury
  • Acts or omissions that cause another person’s death under Military and Veteran’s Code Section 1672(a)5

People convicted of offenses that require them to register as a sex offender under PC 290 require an additional five-year wait. The crimes that have a ten-year wait before someone can apply for a COR include:

  • Certain violations regarding the sexual exploitation of a child under Penal Code 311
  • Certain violations of child pornography laws under Penal Code 311
  • Obscene conduct or indecent exposure under Penal Code 314

What if the court denies my application?

If your petition for a Certificate of Rehabilitation is denied by the court, you may appeal the order. But unlike filing a petition, there is a fee to file an appeal. Since granting a petition is within the court’s discretion, it is unlikely that an appeal will be successful.

How do I show I have been rehabilitated?

A hearing will be scheduled within about 120 days. During the hearing, your attorney will present documents to the court that demonstrate your rehabilitation, including:

  • Consistent employment
  • Undergoing drug, alcohol, or domestic abuse counseling
  • Participating in community events
  • Volunteering
  • Have no arrest record
  • Be actively involved in the emotional and educational well-being of their children
  • Letters from an employer, pastor, community leader, volunteer agency, or neighbor attesting to the person’s rehabilitation
What a Certificate of Rehabilitation DOES:
  • Relieves some sex offenders of their duty to register as a sex offender
  • Enhances (synonym) the potential to obtain state licensing
  • Serves as documentation of rehab for a potential employer
  • Serves as an automatic application for a Governor’s Pardon
What a Certificate of Rehabilitation DOESN’T DO:
  • Erase, dismiss, or seal the conviction
  • Prevent the conviction from being used as a prior conviction
  • Allow you to answer “no conviction record” on an employment application

Will a Certificate of Rehabilitation restore my gun rights?

No. A Certificate of Rehabilitation does not restore 2nd Amendment rights to possession and ownership of firearms. Neither will an expungement unless the court reduced the felony to a misdemeanor before it was expunged.

My conviction is not eligible for a Certificate of Rehabilitation. What else can I do?

If you do not fit the criteria for a Certificate of Rehabilitation, the only other option is to apply for a Governor’s Pardon. If granted, a Governor’s Pardon will restore your 2nd Amendment rights and relieve you of your duty to register as a sex offender, regardless of the offense you have been convicted of.

Need Criminal Defense in Los Angeles?

If you are interested in learning more or starting the application process for a Certificate of Rehabilitation, contact our experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys today. Our experienced and assiduous attorneys will be sure to fight until the end to achieve the desired results.

Need a Criminal Defense Attorney? CALL NOW: 310-274-6529

Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Criminal Defense Attorney who has over 20 years of practice defending a variety of criminal cases.

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