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Certificates of Rehabilitation

Certificates of Rehabilitation are essentially the trial court certifying that a person has been successfully rehabilitated (Penal Code 4852.01 to 4852.21). Once the certificate is granted it is automatically sent to the governor as an application for a pardon, though it is still the Governor’s decision whether to grant a pardon. A person may apply if they meet the following requirements:

  1. If they were convicted of a felony (or misdemeanors found in Penal Code section 290)
  2. They have been released from prison or parole
  3. They have lived an honest life since being released
  4. They have been a California resident for at least 3-5 years

If all of these are met a person can apply for a certificate of rehabilitation. However, certain convictions prohibit a person from being eligible. A person is not eligible any if any of the following apply:

  1. The conviction was a misdemeanor other than those in Penal code 290
  2. They were convicted of a sex crime from Penal code 286(c), 288, 288(a), 288.5, or 289(j)
  3. They have been paroled from a life sentence
  4. Or are actively in the military

Once the period of “rehabilitation” has passed a person can apply for a certificate of rehabilitation. The period begins either when they are released from incarceration or released from probation/parole.  The period of rehabilitation varies based on the violation. Along with the 3-5 required years of California residency, the period must also include:

  1. Four years if convicted of violation of California Penal Code sections 187, 209, 219, 4500, or 12310, or Military and Veterans Code section 1672(a), or of committing any other offense which carries a life sentence
  2. Five years if convicted of any offense or attempted offense for which sex offender registration is required pursuant to P.C. 290, except for convictions for violations of subdivision (b), (c), or (d) of Section 311.2, or of Section 311.3, 311.10, or 314. For those convictions, two years shall be added to the five years imposed by this section.
  3. Two years in the case of any persons convicted of any offense not listed above and which does not carry a life sentence; or
  4. The number of additional years ordered by the trial court hearing the application for the Certificate of Rehabilitation in the case of a person serving consecutive sentences.


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