The Governor of California has discretion to grant pardons to those convicted in California Courts. A pardon restores all rights, privileges, and franchises to those convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, with some notable exceptions. For example, a pardon will not reinstate the gun rights of some former felons. Also, a pardon alone will not restore a State issued license, permit, or certificate. However, a pardon carries great weight with State issuing entities when deciding whether or not to grant or renew a license, permit, or certificate.
There are two ways to obtain a pardon in California: either (1) directly from the Governor, or (2) based upon a Certificate of Rehabilitation. A Certificate of Rehabilitation is simply a trial court recommendation that the Governor grant the applicant a pardon. The method to request a pardon is determined by the circumstances surrounding the applicant's conviction. A knowledgeable defense attorney can skillfully guide an applicant through the proper application process.
The Governor will not grant a pardon unless the applicant can demonstrate proof of a useful, productive, and law-abiding life following the completion of probation or parole. Also, a pardon application will normally be denied unless 10 years have passed since the applicant successfully completed probation or parole; although, exceptions to the 10 year rule are made for extraordinary and compelling circumstances. A good defense attorney can help an applicant gather and submit the most compelling information supporting the grant of a pardon.
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