Expungements, Certificates of Rehabilitation, and Pardons

Expungements, Certificates of Rehabilitation, and Pardons provide excellent opportunities for a person who was convicted to show that he has closed the door on a past episode in his life. Some procedures for cleansing a record of conviction also may restore certain rights that a person lost when he was convicted. A person who was arrested but not convicted may want to consider applying for a finding of factual innocence and an expungement of any DNA samples and profiles.

Expungements (Penal Code section 1203.4)

“Expungement” commonly refers to the procedure for dismissing a case after a person has successfully completed probation. If a person was convicted by a guilty verdict, he would petition the court to set aside the verdict and dismiss the accusatory pleading. If the person was convicted by a plea of guilty or no contest (i.e. nolo contendere), he would ask the court to permit withdrawal of the plea and dismiss the accusatory pleading.

A person who is applying for Expungement relief may request that the court first reduce certain felony offenses to misdemeanors. Felonies that were “wobbler” offenses, meaning they could be charged as felonies or misdemeanors, can be reduced to misdemeanors prior to the Expungement.

Employers generally cannot ask people applying for jobs to disclose a conviction that has been judicially dismissed through Expungement. Some limited exceptions apply when a person seeks work or is already working in certain sensitive areas. A person should consult an attorney for a detailed explanation of how Expungement relief affects disclosures that must be made to employers and professional boards.

A person might be able to accelerate his eligibility for Expungement relief by requesting an early termination of probation. Probation can last for up to five years in a felony case and up to three years in most misdemeanor cases. A person might reach a point where he has been complying with the terms and conditions of probation and has no outstanding duties such as restitution or treatment left to perform. In such a case, a person might consider applying to the court for early termination of probation. If granted, the early termination would enable the person to petition immediately for Expungement relief.

A person may be eligible for Expungement relief even when there were some past blemishes on his probation record. The person may have failed a drug test, been cited for a traffic violation, or committed some other probation violation, but then gone on to straighten out his behavior and complete probation successfully. In such cases, the court may consider whether the person substantially complied with the terms and conditions of probation. The court also may consider whether Expungement relief should be granted in the overall interests of justice.

Certificates of Rehabilitation

A person who was convicted of a felony and completed his parole, probation, or other term of supervision should consider petitioning for a Certificate of Rehabilitation. The person must show that he met certain requirements during his period of rehabilitation. He must have been honest, sober, industrious, obeyed the law, and demonstrated good moral character. He must present proof of five years residence in California prior to petitioning for the Certificate of Rehabilitation.

The “period of rehabilitation” generally begins when a person is released from incarceration and lasts for seven years. The period of rehabilitation can be longer than seven years when a person was sentenced consecutively for multiple felonies, convicted of certain serious or violent offenses, or convicted of certain sex offenses. Some sex offenders are precluded altogether from applying for a Certificate of Rehabilitation.

Governor’s Pardons

A person may apply for a Gubernatorial Pardon in two ways. The first is by direct application to the Governor’s Office. The second is by having been granted a Certificate of Rehabilitation. When the Superior Court grants a Certificate of Rehabilitation, it sends notice to the Governor’s Office. The Governor views the Certificate as a recommendation for Pardon.

The Governor has discretion to grant or deny an application for Pardon. When a person has been twice convicted of a felony, no Pardon may issue without a written recommendation from a majority of Justices of the California Supreme Court.

A Variety of Opportunities

California law provides a variety of options for a person interested in expunging, sealing, or otherwise cleansing his record after a conviction or arrest. A person should contact an attorney to determine what relief might be available to him.

Mr. Oberto welcomes people to contact him 24/7 at (559) 221-2557 to request an initial consultation. Se habla Espanol.

People also may contact Mr. Oberto to request an initial consultation using the contact form available on this website. Please do not use the contact form to write down sensitive information. Information communicated over the internet, including through this website, may not be considered confidential or privileged.

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