If you have been previously convicted of a crime anywhere in California, you may qualify for a Governor’s Pardon—and getting one can help restore your rights. Pardons are typically given to former convicts who have served their time and proved that they now live a well-adjusted life. It is possible to get a pardon even if you were convicted of a felony, sex crime or other serious crime.
To get legal help applying for your Governor’s Pardon, talk to the attorneys of the Simmrin Law Group. We are an experienced law firm dedicated to helping those who have been accused or convicted. We know what kinds of applications are most likely to be approved by the Governor’s Office and we know how to put together the documentation to support your request. Let us give you a free consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.
Who qualifies to get a Governor’s Pardon in California?
Anyone who has been convicted can apply. Officially, the criteria are:
- You believe the law was not applied correctly in your cases,
- You believe you were wrongly convicted, or
- Your sentence was unjust
In practice, however, the pardon is also used as a way to grant forgiveness to someone who has moved on from their criminal past and is now fully rehabilitated.
The typical applicant is someone who has completed their sentence, been out of prison for years, and can show that they now live a “clean,” law-abiding life. Usually, the reason people seek a Governor’s Pardon is to restore their civil rights after being convicted of a felony, to get off of the sex offender registry, or both. However, you can apply no matter what kind of crime you were convicted of.
In the legal profession, the rule of thumb is that people convicted of less serious crimes are more likely to be approved for a Governor’s Pardon. This is generally true, but there are exceptions. In many cases, the benefits of receiving a pardon matter most to those who were convicted of very serious or violent crimes. If this I you, be assured that it is possible to assemble a strong application. It may improve your odds to have a lawyer help you prepare all of the documentation, especially one who has experience with Governor’s Pardons and knows what the Governor’s Office looks for.
If you have already received a certificate of rehabilitation from the courts, you are automatically eligible to apply for a Governor’s Pardon, although this does not guarantee your pardon will be granted.
What are the benefits of a Governor’s Pardon?
A Governor’s Pardon restores basic rights such as:
- The right to own or possess firearms
- The right to serve on a jury
- The right to work as a probation officer, patrol agent or in certain other government jobs
- If you were convicted of a sex crime, the pardon ends your obligation to register as a convicted sex offender
A Governor’s Pardon does not remove your conviction from public records and background checks, so it’s generally best to complete your expungement (if eligible) before seeking the pardon.
How do I apply for a Governor’s Pardon in California?
There are a few steps you should take:
- If possible, go through the process of seeking an expungement or certificate of rehabilitation first. This is not required, but both serve as a way of showing that the courts now view you as having completed your sentence and/or moved on, and a certificate of rehabilitation specifically establishes your eligibility to apply for a pardon. Either one becomes a strong document in favor of your pardon.
- Before applying you will want to take time to assemble documented proof that you are a responsible, law-abiding citizen. This may include documentation of drug/alcohol treatment, volunteer programs, working steadily, receiving an education, providing for your children, or any other evidence that you are an upstanding member of society. Letters from pastors, employers, community leaders or even neighbors attesting to your good character are also extremely helpful.
- Next, you will need to notify each county in California where you were convicted of a felony. You must file a formal document with the District Attorney known as a Notice of Intention to Apply for a Traditional Pardon. This must be filed 10 or more days prior to applying for the pardon itself.
- Finally, you submit your application for the pardon, along with all supporting paperwork, to the Governor’s Office.
Who decides whether to approve my Governor’s Pardon?
The decision rests entirely with the Governor of California. Be aware that the Governor’s Office will open an investigation into your background and history. They will look at disciplinary records during your jail or prison time, arrest records, and other facts about you to determine whether you are leading an honest life.
There are no guarantees when applying for a Governor’s Pardon. However, if you have been out of prison and living as a lawful citizen for many years, your chances are higher. The two best things you can do to maximize your chances are:
- Assemble as many documents as possible showing that you are responsible, law-abiding and involved in the community.
- Get a lawyer to help you prepare the strongest application possible.
Talk to a California Governor’s Pardon Lawyer for Free
Not every former convict needs a pardon. But if you have a felony conviction or a sex crime on your record, a pardon may be the only way to fully recover from the penalties. Let us help you. The Simmrin Law Group will give you a FREE consultation to get you started on your pardon. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.