What is a California Certificate of Rehabilitation?

August 1, 2016

A certificate of rehabilitation is an order from the court deeming a defendant fully rehabilitated from the crime(s) they committed in their past. The process of obtaining this order entails filing documents in the appropriate court and following the proper service formalities. A hearing will be held which will allow the prosecuting agency a chance to oppose the motion. If the court grants a defendant a certificate of rehabilitation, then it will automatically become an application for Governor’s pardon.

Those eligible to file for a certificate of rehabilitation are those convicted of misdemeanor sex crimes, those convicted of a felony and given a probation sentence, and those who were sentenced to state prison. The law imposes a rehabilitative waiting period after being discharged from incarceration or parole. The waiting period serves to show the court that a defendant has remained law-abiding prior to filing their petition. Moreover, the court does not typically or heavily consider a petitioner’s conduct while incarcerated or under the supervision of a parole officer unless the petitioner’s conduct was unsatisfactory.

To increase the chances of achieving a certificate of rehabilitation, it’s in a petitioner’s best interest to attach character letters, awards, certificates, employment records, and any other documents which will help convince the judge the petitioner is fully rehabilitated. For those seeking a certificate of rehabilitation for a sex crime, it would be supportive to attach a copy of a report from a psychologist reflecting that you’re not considered a sexual predator.

The government normally conducts an extensive investigation into a petitioner’s background. This includes obtaining prison behavioral records, reports from the criminal case, testimony transcripts, statements from witnesses, and formal review of the petitioner’s criminal background – including traffic tickets.

The benefits of obtaining a certificate of rehabilitation can have lasting consequences. For instance, a person cannot be denied state licensing on the sole basis of their conviction, and it may relieve someone from having to register as a sex offender. Importantly, a certificate of rehabilitation automatically becomes an application to the California Governor for a pardon.

In sum, a certificate of rehabilitation is highly discretionary with the judge. In other words, there is no requirement mandating the court to issue a certificate of rehabilitation upon request. Therefore, it serves as a major order when a court has reviewed someone past and current living state, and judicially declared them to be fully rehabilitated and has become a full working member of society.

Although a very tedious process, our office handles certificates of rehabilitation all throughout southern California – Orange County, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties. For more information and a free confidential consultation, contact the Law Offices of John D. Rogers. Also ask about early termination of probation, reducing a felony to a misdemeanor, and expungements.

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