Having a criminal record hanging over your shoulder makes it incredibly challenging to build a successful and fulfilling life for yourself. Even after serving your time and ceasing criminal activities, you may continue to face consequences from your past. Not having a certificate of rehabilitation under California law could prevent you from taking advantage of good career opportunities, renting a home, and obtaining professional licenses. Acquiring a certificate of rehabilitation allows you to free yourself from the burden of prior convictions.
Obtaining the certification can be a challenging process. For your legal case to have a successful outcome, it is crucial to collaborate with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. At Darwish Law, our team of lawyers has successfully secured multiple certificates of rehabilitation for our clients. With our extensive knowledge of California law, we can file your petition more efficiently. If you require assistance in obtaining a certificate of rehabilitation, please do not hesitate to contact our Santa Ana legal experts.
An Overview of California's Certificate of Rehabilitation
California PEN 4852.21 and 4852.01 provide the regulations regarding certificates of rehabilitation. The guide outlines how to expunge criminal records once you transform into a law-abiding individual. The paperwork does not remove the records, it simply expunges your criminal history.
Following the completion of a certificate petition, the judge will decide if you qualify for the governor's pardon. The certificate acts as a formal application for a governor's pardon once it has been granted to you for rehabilitation.
After being found guilty of a felony, you are legally permitted to petition the superior court for a certificate of rehabilitation. However, if you have been found guilty of any of the following felonies or sexual offenses, you might not be eligible for COR:
- Sexually abusing a minor - PEN 288.5.
- Forced sexual penetration of a minor - PEN 289j.
- Child molestation - PEN 647.6.
- Oral copulation by force - PEN 288c.
- Force being used to commit Sodomy - PEN 286c.
According to the law, sexual offenders listed under PC 290 are eligible to seek a certificate. While there are other ways to get your criminal record expunged, in some circumstances getting a certificate of rehabilitation might be the best course of action.
Requirements for Obtaining the Certificate of Rehabilitation
A California COR expunges your identity and rehabilitation history. Before applying for a rehabilitation certificate, you should fulfill certain conditions. The prerequisites are:
- For a criminal conviction, you are not on probation.
- After your sentence ended, you were not imprisoned.
- Before applying for the California Certificate of Rehabilitation, you must have lived in California continuously for at least five years.
- You have completed the required number of years as a stand-up citizen.
On the other hand, you might not be eligible for a rehabilitation certificate if:
- You are a member of the US military.
- You're serving life parole.
- You were sentenced to the death penalty.
- You're found guilty in another state of a felony crime.
- You are found guilty of a misdemeanor sexual offense that isn't covered by PC 290.
Even if you were convicted of a felony, you shouldn't be concerned. Getting back into society and assuming the role of a reproductive citizen is still possible. For instance, you can receive post-conviction relief, which entitles you to a complete pardon from the governor, even if you are not eligible for COR. You wish to make a judge's appeal. Once more, you can wait and submit a new application later. After reviewing your case, the judges will let you know if your COR application is approved or denied.
Duration Taken to Apply For a California Rehabilitation Certificate
You should participate in a satisfactory recovery period before requesting a COR. Once more, you had to have lived in California for 5 years in a row. You begin counting the time from the date you fulfill your probation sentence.
However, the rehabilitation period could be extended by between two and five years, based on the charge for which you were found guilty. You take into account the time between the day you finished your probation and the moment you were left alone.
Nine-Year Waiting Period
For some crimes, you have to wait nine years or longer to seek a COR. Among the offenses are:
- Assault resulting in serious physical injury.
- Violent offenses.
10 Years Waiting Period
Most sexual offenses mandate a ten-year waiting period before you can seek a COR. Five of the 10 years are spent in recovery and five are spent remaining in California. You must be listed as a sexual offender to comply with the law, which primarily affects them.
Waiving Your Rehabilitation Waiting Time
The waiting period for rehabilitation may be waived by a Californian judge. Your lawyer is trying to persuade the judge that it is in the interests of justice to waive your rehabilitation time. The judge may choose to waive the rehabilitation term if they so choose. However, this is an extremely rare occurrence. Once more, if your offense necessitates that you register as a sex offender, you are not permitted to pursue this alternative.
What To Expect After Filing a Petition for Certificate of Rehabilitation
Following petition filing, you should exercise patience. It could be many months before you are notified regarding the petition. The prosecutor's team will look into your activities after you are released from detention in the interim. The prosecutors will come up with a report for the judge after conducting an investigation.
The prosecuting agency will notify the court and you when they conclude that you are not eligible for the certificate of rehabilitation. There won't be a court hearing after that. However, you can submit a request asking the judge to hold an eligibility hearing if you still think you qualify for the COR.
Alternatively, you will receive a notice in the mail on the date of your hearing from the agency if they determine that you qualify for the certificate of rehabilitation. It will take approximately 6 months from the day the petition is first filed to the court dates.
Understanding the Governor’s Pardon
It is often possible to get a governor's pardon by obtaining a COR. The document will act as an automatic submission after it is granted to you. The state governor's order to pardon you for all prior convictions is known as a governor's pardon.
After sentencing, only convicts who have exhibited excellent behavior are eligible for a pardon. The governor's pardon has some restrictions even though it can erase your prior criminal record. For instance, a governor's pardon is only available within the state of California; convictions for felonies or misdemeanors outside of the state are not pardonable.
Exemplary conduct indicates that you effectively completed the penalty and sentence. If you return to your community and maintain peace for five to ten years, you can demonstrate that you are eligible for the pardon. Maintaining and pursuing legal work could demonstrate your eligibility for a governor's pardon.
Eligibility For a Governor's Pardon
Not everyone will be eligible to apply for the governor's pardon, as was previously stated. To be qualified for the governor's pardon, you have to fulfill several requirements set down by law. To qualify for the governor's pardon, you need to fulfill the following demands:
- You should have been convicted in the state of California.
- There shouldn't be any history of you violating probationary rules and regulations.
- It should have taken you no less than five to ten years to complete your sentence.
- You must have completed your term and been placed on parole or probation.
Powers of a Governor's Pardon
The following benefits come with the California governor's pardon:
- Allows the accused person to have their rights restored with federal approval, barring convictions involving the use of deadly weapons.
- It allows the defendant to avoid having to register as a sex crime offender.
However, the governor's pardon is not able to accomplish the following:
- It doesn't stop a deportation order.
- Arrest records cannot be sealed or deleted.
- Convictions from jurisdictions other than California are not pardoned.
Unless the court expunges the records, the pardoned individual won't be permitted to testify if they've got no prior convictions
How to Request For the Governor's Pardon
As previously stated, to obtain a certificate of rehabilitation, you first need to get a governor's pardon. You can collaborate with your lawyer to make sure you get the legal counsel you're entitled to. You can seek the governor's pardon through the following legal channels, according to the law:
Acquire the COR
Getting a COR is the first step in applying for the governor's pardon. Your application to receive the governor's pardon is automatically submitted whenever the court grants you access to the file. You file your petition with the Superior Court. The certificate is thereafter sent by the court to the governor's office.
Directly Request a Governor's Pardon
You may occasionally discover that you are ineligible for the rehabilitation certificate. For instance, you might find it difficult to qualify for rehabilitation certification because of where you live. You may therefore request a direct pardon from the governor. The first thing you do is submit an executive clemency petition.
This is the US president's formal request for your pardon. Together with your counsel, you can file a petition or plea at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC. Your desire to apply for a pardon will be indicated by the plea. Additionally, the petition needs to be sent to your county's district attorney.
The notice is forwarded to the California governor's office by the district attorney after they receive it. After that, you can submit your petition to the governor asking for a pardon. Getting the governor's pardon and the certificate of rehabilitation both require a difficult legal process. Therefore, you should collaborate closely with a lawyer who is knowledgeable about post-conviction issues in California. Your lawyer will assist you in understanding your alternatives.
Alternative Legal Choices
It's not all bad news if you are not eligible for the certificate of rehabilitation and the governor's pardon. The law gives you multiple options for expunging your criminal history. However, it would be beneficial if you collaborated closely with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense lawyer. Your lawyer will assist you in selecting the course of action that best fits your situation.
Among the choices that are accessible are:
Case Reduction to a Misdemeanor Charge
Any criminal conviction you receive will negatively impact your life going forward. However, the misdemeanor charge is viewed by the court as less serious than the felony one. It is possible to drop your case to a misdemeanor if:
- You were found guilty of a wobbler offense.
- You completed your term or probation.
The second choice is to get assistance from a criminal defense lawyer to have your criminal records erased. A lot of legal professionals contend that getting your record expunged is preferable to getting a certificate of rehabilitation.
The following are some advantages of the expungements:
- Protection against background checks being performed by employers.
- Restoration of your rights and credibility as a witness in court.
- Acquiring a state-issued professional license.
Keeping Your Arrest Records Sealed
Through your criminal defense lawyer, you can ask the court to seal and destroy your arrest records. Nevertheless, the choice can only be accessible during:
- The moment the police took your arrest and closed the file.
- The court dismissed your lawsuit.
You might not be eligible for the record sealing and destruction, though, if you were found to be a delinquent. You must fulfill the following requirements to be qualified for the records to be sealed and destroyed:
- You ought to be older than eighteen.
- Adult immorality should not be a part of your convictions.
- Serious offenses such as murder or armed robbery, shouldn't be included in the punishment.
Additional Vital Details Regarding the COR
You don't have to pay money to obtain COR. You only need to pay your defense attorney's fees. A skilled attorney is essential since the judge decides whether to grant a certificate of rehabilitation.
The court will arrange a hearing after receiving your California Certificate of Rehabilitation. As soon as the court schedules the hearing, it notifies the governor's office. However, any office can challenge your COR issuance. If you engage an attorney, he or she will represent you during the court hearing.
The governor's office, district attorneys from the jurisdictions where you were convicted, and others will argue before the judge. Your attorney will also argue for you before the judge. You should again attend court if the magistrate requires you to.
Before the hearing, your attorney may meet with the prosecution. In a casual conversation, the defense lawyer could persuade the prosecutor's office to accept your COR issuance. Judges may grant rehabilitation certificates with a prosecutor's support. The following criteria will be taken into account by the judge when determining whether to grant you the certificate:
- Proof that you displayed your work in school.
- Evidence of the labor of volunteers.
- Your educational history.
- Recommendation letters from physicians, educators, psychiatrists on staff, and employers.
- Proof that you have resided in California for the required time.
- Additional proof of your eligibility and character.
- Justifications for the Rehabilitation Certificate Petition.
- The day your parole was fulfilled.
- Your past incarceration.
- Arguments from the office of the governor.
- Your past criminal activity.
- Your family members and loved ones.
Waiting for a judge's ruling after asking for a certificate of rehabilitation can take anywhere from two to six months. A hearing date is scheduled three months after the petition is filed. But in California, the amount of time you have to wait varies according to each county.
Advantages of Requesting a Certificate of Rehabilitation
Unlike an expungement, a certificate of rehabilitation does not expunge your criminal record. Nonetheless, it has the following benefits:
Job Opportunities are Easily Available
Finding a job in California is challenging if you have a criminal record. Before selecting a suitable candidate, all businesses perform professional background checks on LinkedIn, Google, and social media.
Once you have the COR, you can show the certificate to potential employers as proof that you have taken action to improve your life and are deserving of their consideration. Once more, the state will not refuse to grant you a professional license if you have the certificate.
Automatically Get the Governor's Pardon
The governor's pardon is yours automatically when you file for COR. After being found guilty, you can regain the privileges you were denied when you receive a governor's pardon. Among the rights are the ability to serve on juries and possess a handgun. Once more, the governor's pardon can prevent you from being listed as a sexual offender.
Enrollment as a Sexual Offender
Upon receiving the Certificate of Rehabilitation, you are no longer registered as a sex offender in California. It is important to remember that not all sexual offenses qualify for this privilege. The offenses include kidnapping, sexual assault, and child sex offenses.
To find out if your offense qualifies, you need to consult with your lawyer if you could be found guilty of a sexual offense. A complete pardon from the governor is the only way a sexual offender can be freed from their conviction. The governor of California will automatically submit a pardon application upon the issuance of a Certificate of Rehabilitation.
Find a Santa Ana Criminal Defense Lawyer Near Me
If you require any assistance in applying for a California Certificate of Rehabilitation, we would be delighted to help. Our team of legal professionals at Darwish Law is dedicated to serving customers in Santa Ana, California. We understand the challenges individuals face when reintegrating into society after having a criminal record. Therefore, we are here to offer advice on the available options to help remove any criminal convictions or arrest records you may have. Call us at 714-887-4810 if you have any questions regarding your possibilities for post-conviction relief.