Certificate of Rehabilitation and Pardon

Certificate of Rehabilitation

A Certificate of Rehabilitation is a court order declaring that a person convicted of a crime is now rehabilitated. Generally, any person convicted of a felony who still resides in California may apply to the Superior Court in the county where he or she lives for a Certificate of Rehabilitation, provided that the applicant has met the legal requirements of demonstrated rehabilitation. There are special rules that apply to individuals convicted of sex offense.

The Merced County Public Defender's Office has the forms for the Certificate of Rehabilitation at no charge. If the Petitioner's prior prison record is out of county the petitioner should have a copy of his/her rap sheet which can be obtained from any livescan location.

If the Court issues/grants a Certificate of Rehabilitaion, the certificate is forwarded to the Governor's Office in Sacramento where it automatically becomes an application for a pardon. The Governor's receipt of a Certificate of Rehabilitation does not guarantee that a pardon will be granted.

The Certificate or Rehabilitation and Pardon Applications can be acquired at the Public Defenders Office.  When you come in you will fill out an information sheet so that the attorney can review your information and let you know if you are eligible for the certificate.

Traditional Pardon

The traditional pardon procedure is available to people who are ineligible for a Certificate of Rehabilitation. This procedure is used primarily by people who were convicted of a crime in California and now reside outside the state. The traditional pardon procedure is also available to people who are not eligible for a Certificate of Rehabilitation because they have been convicted of specified sex offenses or misdemeanor offenses.

Applicants for a traditional pardon may obtain the application either by accessing the Governor's website, or by requesting an application in writing at the following address:

Governor's Office
State Capitol
Attention: Legal Affairs
Sacramento, CA 95814

The applicant should first complete the Application for Executive Clemency. Then the applicant must send the Notice of Intent to apply for Executive Clemency to the District Attorney of each county in which the applicant was convicted so that each District Attorney receives the legally-required notice. The District Attorney acknowledges receipt of the Notice of Intent and returns the notice to the Governor's Office. Finally, the applicant should return the completed application to the Governor's Office at the address listed above.