California Governor’s Pardon FAQ

This FAQ answers the most common questions we receive about obtaining a Governor’s Pardon over the past 29 years of our pardon practice.  This is not intended to provide legal advice. If you believe you need a pardon, please read below and then get our law firm’s California Pardon Plan which is customized to your particular situation. [Last updated 04/25/2019.]

How do I apply for a Governor’s Pardon?

There are two different routes to seeking a pardon from the Governor: 1) A pardon via a certificate of rehabilitation; or 2) A direct application for a pardon.

If you have been a full-time resident of California for at least the past 5 years, you seek a pardon via a certificate of rehabilitation.

If you have not been a full-time California resident for at least the past 5 years, or you don’t meet the other criteria for a certificate of rehabilitation (for example your conviction was for a serious sex-offense), then you must seek a pardon by filing a direct application for a pardon. Get your Record Review & Pardon Plan today.

What offenses Qualify for a Pardon?

California Governor can only grant a pardon for California offenses. If you were convicted in another state you need a pardon from the Governor of that state. If your conviction is for a federal offense, you need a Presidential pardon, not a governor’s pardon.

Generally speaking, you must have a felony offense to be eligible for a pardon. Only a handful of misdemeanor convictions are eligible for a pardon, and all of those are sex-offenses.  In addition, at least 10 years must have passed since the last time you were in custody. Get your Record Review & Pardon Plan today.

Is the Governor required to grant me a pardon?

No.  The Governor can grant, deny, or completely ignore your pardon application for any reason, or no reason. The correct way to think of a pardon is as a “gift.” You submit your pardon application (either directly or via a certificate of rehabilitation) and then it’s entirely up to the Governor whether to give you the gift of a pardon. Get your Record Review & Pardon Plan today.

I have more than one felony conviction. Do I still qualify for a pardon by the Governor?

There is no limit on the number of felonies or the extent of your criminal record. However, if you have more than one felony case, the California Supreme Court must approve of the pardon before the Governor can grant you a pardon. Get your Record Review & Pardon Plan today.

I applied for a Pardon under Governor Brown but never heard anything. Can I reapply under Governor Newsom?

Governor Newsom has made an initial announcement on how he will handle pardons applications under his tenure.

If you applied under Governor Brown (or any previous Governor) via a direct application or via a certificate of rehabilitation and did not receive notice of a pardon grant, your application is deemed closed.

However, it is possible to re-open your pardon or to reapply.

The process of re-opening your pardon or reapplying varies based on your situation:

  1. If you have never applied or a pardon under Newsom or any other governor, then you must apply with a new direct application or by way of a certificate of rehabilitation.
  2. If you applied for a direct pardon under Governor Brown prior to January 7, 2016, and you did not receive a pardon grant, then you must submit a completely new direct application for pardon.
  3. If you were granted a Certificate of Rehabilitation prior to January 7, 2016, and you did not receive a pardon grant, then you must submit a completely new direct application for pardon.
  4. If you applied for a direct pardon under former Governor Brown on or after January 7, 2016, and you did not receive a pardon grant, then you may submit a re-activation request to Governor Newsom. Do not re-submit your original application or other documents unless requested to do so by the Governor’s Office or the Board of Parole Hearings.
  5. If you were granted a Certificate of Rehabilitation on or after January 7, 2016, and you did not receive a pardon grant, then you may submit a re-activation request to Governor Newsom. Do not re-submit your original certificate of rehabilitation application or other documents unless requested to do so by the Governor’s Office or the Board of Parole Hearings.

Mr. Boire has three decades of expertise and experience in all of the above. We hope to be of service to you and your family. Step 1 is to get our Record Review & Pardon Plan today.

I went to state prison for my felony. Am I still eligible for a pardon?

Yes. So long as you meet the other criteria noted above. Get your Record Review & Pardon Plan today.

I was granted probation for my felony. Am I still eligible for a pardon?

Yes. But, among the other criteria noted above, you must also obtain a dismissal (aka “expungement“) under Penal Code, §1203.4 before applying for a pardon (whether by direct application or via a Certificate of Rehabilitation). Get your Record Review & Pardon Plan today.

What agency investigates a pardon application?

Direct applications for a Pardon (i.e., those that do not follow from a Certificate of Rehabilitation) are forwarded to the Board of Parole Hearings for an investigation and recommendation to the Governor. Applications supported by a certificate of rehabilitation may be granted by the Governor without investigation and recommendation by the Board of Parole Hearings in accordance with Penal Code, Section 4852.16. Get your Record Review & Pardon Plan today.

What is considered during a pardon investigation?

When our law firm prepares your pardon application, we provide all the supporting documents available. The Board of Parole Hearings can examine all transcripts of judicial proceedings and all affidavits or other documents submitted in connection with the application, and even has the power to employ assistants and take testimony and to examine witnesses under oath and to do any and all things necessary to make a full and complete investigation. This includes your answers to a detailed questionnaire that the Board of Parole Hearings will require you to complete, and which spans your employment history, criminal history, residence history and your reasons for seeking a pardon. The Board of Parole Hearings also requests 2 photos of you similar to passport photos. In some cases, they will conduct a personal interview with you and/or will speak with any contacts that you mention in your application or the questionnaire. Get your Record Review & Pardon Plan today.

If my pardon application is sent o the Board of Parole Hearings, will I, or my attorney, receive notice of that event?

Under a recent amendment to Penal Code, § 4812, subd. (d), “the board shall provide electronic or written notification to an applicant after the board receives the application, and when the board has issued a recommendation on the application.” Get your Record Review & Pardon Plan today.

Does the Board of Parole Hearings provide the applicant (or his or her Attorney) with a copy of their investigation report?

No. The report is confidential. The only copy goes to the Governor and his staff. Get your Record Review & Pardon Plan today.

How long does it take to have my pardon ruled on?

There is no timetable. Get your Record Review & Pardon Plan today.

I need my pardon now! Is there any way to speed up the pardon process?

Under Penal Code section 4812, subdivision (c)  “[i]f a petitioner indicates in the application an urgent need for the pardon or commutation, including, but not limited to, a pending deportation order or deportation proceeding, then the board shall consider an expedited review of the application.” This process may result in an expedited investigation report, but the Governor remains under no duty to review the application any quicker (or at all). Get your Record Review & Pardon Plan today.

If I am granted a pardon does it erase my record?

No. A pardon does not seal or expunge the record of conviction. Instead, the pardon is filed with the California Secretary of State, reported to the California Legislature, and your official Department of Justice Criminal Record is amended to show that you were granted a pardon. Get your Record Review & Pardon Plan today.

Will a pardon restore my right to possess a gun?

In most cases, a full and unconditional pardon will restore your gun rights. However, gun rights are a complicated mix of state and federal law, so there is always some ambiguity in this area. Also, if your conviction was for a felony involving the use of a dangerous weapon, your gun rights are lost for life and even a full and unconditional pardon by the Governor will not restore your gun rights. If you are seeking to restore your gun rights, there may be an easier way. We strongly encourage you to obtain our law firm’s Gun Rights Restoration Review & Plan.

Will a pardon restore a felon’s right to vote?

You can vote now. Even if you were convicted of a felony, your right to vote was restored as soon as you were released from custody. Get your Record Review & Pardon Plan today.

If my pardon is granted, will I be able to serve on a jury?

Yes. Under Code of Civil Procedure, § 203, subd.(a)(5), a pardon restores your right to serve on a jury.

If my pardon is granted, can employers still hold my conviction against me? Can employers ask me about a pardoned crime?

Under the Pardon and Commutation Reform Act of 2018 (Government Code § 12952), was amended to specify exactly how employers must treat a pardoned offense. Government Code, Section 12952, states:

12952. (a) Except as provided in subdivision (d), it is an unlawful employment practice for an employer with five or more employees to do any of the following:

(1) To include on any application for employment, before the employer makes a conditional offer of employment to the applicant, any question that seeks the disclosure of an applicant’s conviction history.
(2) To inquire into or consider the conviction history of the applicant, including any inquiry about conviction history on any employment application, until after the employer has made a conditional offer of employment to the applicant.
(3) To consider, distribute, or disseminate information about any of the following while conducting a conviction history background check in connection with any application for employment:
(A) Arrest not followed by conviction, except in the circumstances as permitted in paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) and subdivision (f) of Section 432.7 of the Labor Code.
(B) Referral to or participation in a pretrial or posttrial diversion program.
(C) Convictions that have been sealed, dismissed, expunged, or statutorily eradicated pursuant to law, or any conviction for which the convicted person has received a full pardon or has been issued a certificate of rehabilitation.
(4) To interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of, or the attempt to exercise, any right provided under this section.
(b) This section shall not be construed to prevent an employer from conducting a conviction history background check not in conflict with the provisions of subdivision (a).
(c) (1) (A) An employer that intends to deny an applicant a position of employment solely or in part because of the applicant’s conviction history shall make an individualized assessment of whether the applicant’s conviction history has a direct and adverse relationship with the specific duties of the job that justify denying the applicant the position. In making the assessment described in this paragraph, the employer shall consider all of the following:
(i) The nature and gravity of the offense or conduct.
(ii) The time that has passed since the offense or conduct and completion of the sentence.
(iii) The nature of the job held or sought.
(B) An employer may, but is not required to, commit the results of this individualized assessment to writing.
(2) If the employer makes a preliminary decision that the applicant’s conviction history disqualifies the applicant from employment, the employer shall notify the applicant of this preliminary decision in writing. That notification may, but is not required to, justify or explain the employer’s reasoning for making the preliminary decision. The notification shall contain all of the following:
(A) Notice of the disqualifying conviction or convictions that are the basis for the preliminary decision to rescind the offer.
(B) A copy of the conviction history report, if any.
(C) An explanation of the applicant’s right to respond to the notice of the employer’s preliminary decision before that decision becomes final and the deadline by which to respond. The explanation shall inform the applicant that the response may include submission of evidence challenging the accuracy of the conviction history report that is the basis for rescinding the offer, evidence of rehabilitation or mitigating circumstances, or both.
(3) The applicant shall have at least five business days to respond to the notice provided to the applicant under paragraph (2) before the employer may make a final decision. If, within the five business days, the applicant notifies the employer in writing that the applicant disputes the accuracy of the conviction history report that was the basis for the preliminary decision to rescind the offer and that the applicant is taking specific steps to obtain evidence supporting that assertion, then the applicant shall have five additional business days to respond to the notice.
(4) The employer shall consider information submitted by the applicant pursuant to paragraph (3) before making a final decision.
(5) If an employer makes a final decision to deny an application solely or in part because of the applicant’s conviction history, the employer shall notify the applicant in writing of all the following:
(A) The final denial or disqualification. The employer may, but is not required to, justify or explain the employer’s reasoning for making the final denial or disqualification.
(B) Any existing procedure the employer has for the applicant to challenge the decision or request reconsideration.
(C) The right to file a complaint with the department.
(d) This section does not apply in any of the following circumstances:
(1) To a position for which a state or local agency is otherwise required by law to conduct a conviction history background check.
(2) To a position with a criminal justice agency, as defined in Section 13101 of the Penal Code.
(3) To a position as a Farm Labor Contractor, as described in Section 1685 of the Labor Code.
(4) To a position where an employer or agent thereof is required by any state, federal, or local law to conduct criminal background checks for employment purposes or to restrict employment based on criminal history. For purposes of this paragraph, federal law shall include rules or regulations promulgated by a self-regulatory organization as defined in Section 3(a)(26) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended by 124 Stat. 1652 (Public Law 111-203), pursuant to the authority in Section 19(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended by 124 Stat. 1652 (Public Law 111-203).
(e) The remedies under this section shall be in addition to and not in derogation of all other rights and remedies that an applicant may have under any other law, including any local ordinance.
(f) For purposes of this section:
(1) “Conviction” has the same meaning as defined in paragraphs (1) and (3) of subdivision (a) of Section 432.7 of the Labor Code.
(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), the term “conviction history” includes:
(A) An arrest not resulting in conviction only in the specific, limited circumstances described in subdivision (f) of Section 432.7 of the Labor Code, when an employer at a health facility, as defined in Section 1250 of the Health and Safety Code, may ask an applicant for certain positions about specified types of arrests.
(B) An arrest for which an individual is out on bail or his or her own recognizance pending trial.

Get your Record Review & Pardon Plan today.

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California Governor's Pardon Lawyer
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Learn all about applying for a pardon from the California Governor, by California's top pardon lawyer. Helping people since 1990. Act now to Apply under Governor Newsom.

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