Certificate of Rehabilitation and Governor’s Pardon



If you served time in state prison, or were convicted of certain sex crimes, you may be eligible to seek a Certificate of Rehabilitation. While it does not erase your criminal record, it is a court order that essentially declares you a law abiding citizen.

The major benefits of a Certificate of Rehabilitation include:

  • Restores all civil rights (gun rights are only restored if Governor signs pardon);
  • End duty to register under Penal Code section 290 for many sex-offenses;
  • Serves as official proof that you have been rehabilitated;
  • Ends employment and occupational licensing discrimination;
  • If granted, it is an automatic application for a governor’s pardon.


If you were convicted of a felony in California and served time in prison, you may be eligible for a Certificate of Rehabilitation. You may be eligible to apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation if you lived in California for the past 5 years and fall into one of the following three categories:

  • Were convicted of a felony and served your sentence in a state prison AND
    1. Were discharged or released on parole prior to May 13, 1943;
    2. Have not been in jail since your release; AND
    3. Have been living in California 3 years prior to filing for the Certificate of Rehabilitation.
  • Were convicted of a felony, or misdemeanor sex offense specified in Penal Code Section 290 that was later expunged AND
    1. Were discharged from custody, probation, or parole;
    2. Have not been incarcerated in any penal institution, jail, or agency since your release;
    3. Are not on probation for the commission of any other felony; AND
    4. Have resided for 5 years in California immediately prior to filing the petition.
  • Were convicted of a felony after May 13, 1943 AND
    1. Were sentenced to state prison;
    2. Were discharged from custody or released on parole; AND
    3. Have resided for 5 years in California immediately prior to filing the petition

Depending on your situation, the amount of time required to pass varies. But, whatever your situation, we believe that mistakes in the past should not prevent you from moving forward with your life. One way we can help you move forward is to begin this process today, so call us for a FREE consultation.

Additionally, if the Certificate of Rehabilitation is granted, an application for a Governor’s Pardon is automatic.



A Governor’s Pardon is the highest relief from the consequences associated with a criminal conviction. Although the Certificate of Rehabilitation is the court’s recommendation for a pardon, it is the California Governor who has the ultimate discretion to grant this relief.  The governor may choose to do so without further review, or the governor may choose to investigate the case further. Either way, you need an attorney on your side to help you maneuver through this process.