September 29, 2023 By Paul Wallin

What Crimes Can A Governor Pardon?

The governor of California has the power to pardon individuals convicted of crimes, but it’s important to understand what type of crimes they’re able to pardon. It varies by state, and this article will provide an overview of the kinds of offenses that can be pardoned in California. 

In general, the governor of California has the power to reduce sentences, commute death penalties to life in prison without parole, and grant pardons, which can come with a full pardon or conditional pardon. A full pardon may restore a person’s civil rights that were forfeited due to their conviction, while a conditional pardon is sometimes granted when an individual agrees to certain conditions set by the governor. 

Choosing Wallin & Klarich to represent your case puts you in the best position to receive the best outcome for your case. We have over 40 years of experience in Southern California. Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL  for your free appeal consultation! 

Types of Crimes the Governor Can Pardon

Pardons can be granted for many types of offenses, including nonviolent felonies and misdemeanors. In California, typical infractions that can be pardoned include theft, drug possession, DUI, and other non-violent crimes. However, these are just a few examples; the governor of California has the power to pardon almost any crime as long as it is considered to be in the best interest of the public. 

Are You Eligible for a Governor’s Pardon

The Constitution of the State of California, Article V, Section 8 grants individuals convicted of a California criminal offense the opportunity to receive a governor’s pardon. This official declaration allows individuals to regain various rights that were previously lost due to their conviction. A governor’s pardon is a distinguished privilege reserved for those who have exhibited exceptional conduct following their criminal conviction.

Discover your eligibility for a governor’s pardon today. Contact one of our experienced attorneys at Wallin & Klarich to discuss if you are eligible to seek a governor’s pardon.

Seeking a Pardon

  • There are two primary avenues through which individuals may obtain a governor’s pardon:
  1. Automatic Application after Certificate of Rehabilitation: In the majority of cases, the initial step towards securing a governor’s pardon involves obtaining a Certificate of Rehabilitation from the Superior Court in the county of one’s residence. This process entails demonstrating significant rehabilitation and good conduct following a criminal conviction. By obtaining this certificate, individuals establish their eligibility and readiness for societal reintegration. Once the Certificate of Rehabilitation is granted, an automatic application for a governor’s pardon can be made.
  2. Direct Pardon Process: For individuals residing out of state or those who are ineligible for a Certificate of Rehabilitation, an alternative method known as the direct pardon comes into play. This process enables individuals to bypass the Certificate of Rehabilitation requirement and directly seek a governor’s pardon. While the requirements and procedures for a direct pardon may differ from those of a Certificate of Rehabilitation, it provides an avenue for individuals to present their case directly to the governor for consideration.
  • Both paths offer opportunities for individuals to seek a governor’s pardon and regain various rights that were forfeited as a consequence of their criminal conviction. It is important to familiarize oneself with the specific requirements and processes associated with each method to maximize the chances of success in obtaining a governor’s pardon.
  • If you are unsure which avenue is the best for you, don’t hesitate to contact our office today!

Certificate of Rehabilitation

A Certificate of Rehabilitation, as outlined in the California Penal Code 4852.01 et seq., is a legal document issued by a court that signifies the state’s recognition of an individual’s complete rehabilitation following a criminal conviction. To be eligible for a Certificate of Rehabilitation, the following criteria must be met:

  • You were convicted of either a qualifying California felony or a misdemeanor sex crime that required sex offender registration under Penal Code Section 290. Additionally, your conviction must have been dismissed or set aside by the court through Penal Code Section 1203.4, often referred to as an “expungement.”
  • You have been released from custody, probation, or parole, and have not served time in jail or prison since.
  • You meet the minimum rehabilitation period requirements specified in Penal Code Section 4852.03.
  • No current criminal charges are pending against you.
  • You have been a resident of California for at least five years prior to applying for a Certificate of Rehabilitation.
  • You can provide documentation demonstrating that you have led an honest, sober, and law-abiding life since your conviction.

If a Superior Court judge grants you a Certificate of Rehabilitation, this serves as an automatic application for a governor’s pardon. The court will forward your information to the governor’s office, and your certificate will act as the court’s recommendation to the governor for granting a pardon.

It is crucial to note that individuals convicted of California crimes requiring lifetime sex offender registration should understand that while receiving a Certificate of Rehabilitation reflects positively on their character, it typically does not relieve them of the duty to register as a sex offender (Penal Code Section 290.5). To obtain relief from this obligation, a governor’s pardon is necessary.

Direct Pardon

If you are ineligible for a Certificate of Rehabilitation, you have the option of pursuing a direct pardon through the formal process known as an “Application for Executive Clemency.” The direct pardon procedure is specifically designed for individuals who fall into any of the following categories:

You no longer reside in California.

You were convicted of certain sex offenses in California, including:

  • Sodomy with a minor (Penal Code 286(c))
  • Lewd acts with a minor under the age of 14 (Penal Code 288)
  • Oral copulation with a minor (Penal Code 288a(c))
  • Continuous sexual abuse of a child (Penal Code 288.5)
  • Forcible acts of sexual penetration with a child (Penal Code 289(j))

You were convicted of a misdemeanor that does not require sex offender registration.

You are serving a mandatory life parole.

You have been sentenced to death.

To initiate the direct pardon process, you must send a Notice of Intent to Apply for Executive Clemency to the District Attorney’s office of each county where you were convicted. After acknowledging receipt of your notice, the District Attorney’s office returns it to the governor’s office. Subsequently, you can proceed by submitting your completed application for clemency directly to the governor’s office in Sacramento.

Your application for a direct pardon should include the following information:

Personal identifying details.

Specifics regarding the crime for which you are seeking a pardon.

A comprehensive record of all prior convictions, including those from jurisdictions other than California.

An explanation of why you are requesting a pardon.

Justifications for why you believe a pardon is warranted, including:

  • Rehabilitation efforts made during incarceration and after release.
  • Disciplinary record while in custody, on probation, or on parole.

Including these essential components in your application will help provide a comprehensive and compelling case for the governor’s consideration.

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today 

If you need a defense attorney with experience, look no further. With 40+ years of experience, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have helped thousands of clients with their court appearances and the rest of their cases. We know the most effective defenses to argue on your behalf, and we will do everything in our power to help you achieve the best possible result in your case. 

You may not be aware of all your options. Calling our office costs you nothing, but picking up the phone could be the difference between years in prison and years of freedom. Let our skilled attorneys examine your case to find the best way to avoid prison.Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.

AUTHOR: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

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