If a conviction is holding you back from reaching opportunities, a California Certificate of Rehabilitation may be right for you. Individuals who are granted a California Certificate of Rehabilitation gain better employment opportunities and are eligible for a Governor’s pardon. Here’s how to get a California Certificate of Rehabilitation.
Who is eligible for a California Certificate of Rehabilitation?
An individual may be eligible for a California Certificate of Rehabilitation if he or she
- Served a felony conviction in a California state prison OR
- Was convicted of a felony and sentenced to probation and the conviction was expunged OR
- Expunged a misdemeanor conviction under California Penal Code 290
He or she must have also
- Lived in California for a minimum of 5 years
- Completed the rehabilitation requirements
Who is ineligible for a California Certificate of Rehabilitation?
An individual may not be eligible for a California Certificate of Rehabilitation if he or she:
- Is in the military
- Is serving mandatory life parole
- Was sentenced to the death penalty
- Convicted of a non-sex misdemeanor offense
- Was convicted of a crime anywhere outside of California state jurisdiction
- Was convicted of any of the following crimes
- Sodomy by force or with a child (California Penal Code 286(c)),
- Lewd acts with a child under 14 (child molestation, California Penal Code 288),
- Oral copulation with a child or oral copulation by force or threat (California Penal Code 288a(c))
- Continuous sexual abuse of a child (California Penal Code 288.5), or
- Forcible sexual penetration of a child 15 or older (California Penal Code 289(j))
Although some crimes cannot be expunged or be eligible for a certificate of rehabilitation, these crimes are still able to be pardoned by a governor.
For Individuals Convicted of Violent Crimes
Individuals convicted of aggravated kidnapping, assault, murder, or other violent crimes must serve 9 year period of rehabilitation. This 9 year period of rehabilitation includes 5 years of residency and an additional 4 years of rehabilitation outside of residency. This period of time cannot be skipped, altered, or lessened in any way.
For Individuals Convicted of Sex Crimes Under CPC 290
Individuals convicted of crimes requiring California Penal Code 290 registration must serve a 10 year period of rehabilitation. This 10 year period of rehabilitation includes 5 years of residency and an additional 5 years of rehabilitation outside of residency. These crimes do not include child porn, sexual exploitation of a child, or obscene conduct/indecent exposure.
For Individuals Convicted of All Other Sex Crimes
Individuals convicted of all other sex crimes must serve a 7 year period of rehabilitation. This 7 year period of rehabilitation includes 5 years of residency and an additional 2 years of rehabilitation outside of residency. These crimes include California Penal Code 314 child porn crimes, obscene conduct/indecent exposure, and sexual exploitation of a child.
How do I apply for a California Certificate of Rehabilitation?
Individuals seeking a Certificate of Rehabilitation may file for one anytime after their minimum rehabilitation period has ended. California residents must prove that they are satisfactory in the court’s eyes. This includes:
-Having residency five years before applying for a COR
-In some cases, an additional two to five years of residency, depending on the severity of the crime or type of crime.
It’s also important to note that these times will not start until the defendant completes their mandatory probation or parole and has been released from mandatory or community supervision. In other words, the five year period doesn’t start until you have completed your parole, probation, and have been released from house arrest or prison.
Obtaining and Filing a COR
An applicant can obtain a COR from his or her county’s superior court. Find your local court here.
Obtain a Copy of Your Criminal Record
An applicant must submit his or her criminal record to the court. The criminal record must include:
- Date of conviction
- County in which the conviction occurred
- Convicted charges
- Date of prison or jail release
- Date of discharge from probation
You can get your criminal record from the court where your conviction occurred or from the California Department of Justice.
How much does it cost to get a California Certificate of Rehabilitation?
Filing for a COR is completely free. However, consulting an attorney may cost some money.
Do I need to hire an attorney?
Although it is not necessary to, hiring an attorney is a smart investment. Experienced attorneys understand the court’s processes and legal system, giving you a greater chance of having your Certificate of Rehabilitation to be granted. Pride Legal’s network of experienced, LGBT-friendly attorneys are experienced in representing individuals seeking a California Certificate of Rehabilitation at a reasonable rate.
However, if you cannot afford an attorney, a public defender will be appointed by the court to represent you.
Will there be a hearing to decide whether or not the COR will be granted?
Yes, a hearing will usually be held for the judge to decide whether or not the COR will be granted.
What factors will a judge consider when deciding whether or not to grant a Certificate of Rehabilitation?
A California judge will consider the following factors when granting a Certificate of Rehabilitation:
- Arguments presented by the D.A.
- Court proceedings
- Employment and education history
- Letters of recommendations
- Prison record
- Proof of residence
- Reason for COR
- The applicant’s character and eligibility
- The nature of the offense
- Trial records
- Volunteer work
- Other factors
What happens if the COR is granted?
Once the COR is granted, the court in which it was filed will automatically send a copy to the California governor’s office, the Board of Parole Hearings, and the California Department of Justice.
Also, a request for the California governor’s pardon will automatically be sent by the court to the Governor’s office.
Benefits of Getting a California Certificate of Rehabilitation
For Individuals Convicted of Violent Crimes
Individuals convicted of violent crimes have serious trouble finding employment. A serious felony conviction can stand in the way of getting employment. The California Certificate of Rehabilitation also makes the offender eligible for a governor’s pardon. A person cannot be denied a job or license solely based on their conviction, and having a certificate of rehabilitation is proof to any licensing agency that the defendant is a productive member of society.
For Sex Offenders
Having to continuously register as a sex offender may harm an individual’s reputation and ability to gain employment. Some convicted sex offenders are no longer required to register as sex offenders if granted a California Certificate of Rehabilitation. There are numerous exceptions to when a person cannot be taken off the sex offenders register, including:
-Kidnapping with the intent to commit rape, sodomy, or any other lewd acts with a minor
-Assault with the intent to commit a sex crime
-Felony sexual battery
-Sexual assault of a child
-Human trafficking of a child
-Lewd acts on a child
-annoying or molesting a child
Contact Pride Legal
If you or a loved one is seeking to apply for a California Certificate of Rehabilitation, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.