September 8, 2014 By Stephen Klarich

Does a Governor’s Pardon Seal or Destroy Your Criminal Record?

destroy your criminal record
A Governor’s Pardon does not destroy your criminal record.

If you are convicted of a crime, your conviction will affect critical aspects of your life and the negative stigma will follow you forever. However, receiving a Governor’s Pardon could reduce some of the impact your criminal conviction has on your life.

While receiving a pardon will restore some of your rights, it will not seal or destroy your criminal record. This means that you will still have to inform new employers of your criminal conviction and disclose this information in any other situation that requires you to do so.1

But if the governor pardons your crimes, shouldn’t that clear the conviction from your record? Let’s take a look at what a Governor’s Pardon does and does not do…

What Does a Governor’s Pardon Do?

According to the California governor’s website, a pardon “is an honor that may be granted to people who have demonstrated exemplary behavior following their conviction.”2 Obtaining a Governor’s Pardon involves several steps, including:

  • Apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation;
  • Apply for a direct pardon (if you are ineligible for a Certificate of Rehabilitation);
  • Maintain good behavior while the governor’s office reviews your application.3

If you complete these steps and are granted a Governor’s Pardon, it will restore certain basic rights that you may have lost as a result of your conviction, such as allowing you to:

  • Serve on a jury trial;
  • Own a firearm upon federal approval (unless the conviction was for a felony involving a dangerous weapon);
  • Become a probation officer or state parole agent; and
  • Be relieved of having to register as a sex offender.4

Historically, California governors have been reluctant to grant pardons. However, Governor Jerry Brown has granted many more pardons than his predecessors. It is clear that the best time to apply for a Governor’s Pardon is now.

What is an Expungement?

criminal defense
Our skilled criminal defense attorneys can help you with an expungement.

Unfortunately, a Governor’s Pardon does not impact your criminal record. Despite the fact that the governor is essentially excusing you for your past criminal act, it does not remove the crime from your record. However, you may be able to have your record expunged.

To be eligible for an expungement, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You were arrested for an offense but not convicted;
  • You were convicted of a misdemeanor or felony but never served a state prison sentence and you:
    • Have completed the terms of your probation, and
    • Are not facing any new charges or are not on probation for a different offense.

If you have been convicted of certain sex offenses or a limited number of Vehicle Code violations, you will not able to get the conviction dismissed.

Let the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Help You Today

If you are interested in obtaining a Governor’s Pardon or having your criminal record expunged, you will need a skilled criminal defense attorney to guide you through the complex process. Our team of attorneys at Wallin & Klarich has been successfully helping our clients obtain Governor’s Pardons and expunge their records for over 40 years.

With offices located in Orange County, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Torrance, Riverside, West Covina, Victorville, Ventura, San Diego and Sherman Oaks, our knowledgeable attorneys are available to help you no matter where you live or work.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.


1. [http://www.clearupmyrecord.com/what-is-a-governors-pardon.php]
2. [www.gov.ca.gov/s_pardonsandcommutations.php]
3. [www.gov.ca.gov/docs/How_To_Apply_for_a_Pardon/pdf]
4. [Id.]

AUTHOR: Stephen Klarich

Stephen Klarich is a partner at Wallin & Klarich and expert in the field of sex crimes. For over thirty years, Stephen Klarich has been handling criminal cases and matters involving sex offenses. With an unparalleled knowledge of sex crimes defense, Stephen Klarich protects his clients’ rights. Stephen Klarich has experienced significant success in obtaining a Certificate of Rehabilitation or Governor’s Pardon for his clients. Thousands of clients have put their trust in Stephen Klarich and the attorneys at Wallin & Klarich in their time of legal need.

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