California Certificate of Rehabilitation

July 30, 2016

A certificate of rehabilitation is an order from the superior court deeming a person fully rehabilitated from the crime(s) previously committed after demonstrating exemplary behavior.  Once the order is given, it automatically serves as an application for pardon to the Governor of California.  But obtaining a certificate of rehabilitation is much more difficult than most petitioners anticipate.  California has strict procedures and requirements that must be fulfilled in order to qualify.  In addition to qualifying, a hearing will be held before the court to determine whether the judge should issue a certificate of rehabilitation.  The court is granted wide latitude when ruling upon these petitions.  Therefore, it’s always in someone’s best interest to retain an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney familiar with these petitions when seeking such an order.


Committed to State Prison: If a person has been convicted of a felony and served time in state prison, the eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • You have not been incarcerated in any penal institution since released from prison;
  • You have resided in the state of California for five years preceding their petition.

Committed to County Jail or Probation was Granted: If a person has been convicted of a felony, or a misdemeanor sex offense list in Penal Code 290 that was dismissed under Penal Code 1203.4, the eligibility requirement are as follows:

  • You have been discharged from custody, parole, or probation;
  • You have not been incarcerated in any penal institution, jail, or agency since their release; and
  • You have resided in the state of California for five years prior to filing the petition.


In addition to the five year California resident requirement prior to filing your petition, there is an additional amount of years a person must wait if they fall within the following categories:

  • An additional 5 years for any person convicted of a sex offense requiring sex offender registration, except for subdivisions (b), (c), or (d) of PC 311.2, PC 311.3, PC 311.10, or PC 314, which only require an additional 2 years versus 5.
  • Any additional years ordered by the judge if someone served consecutive sentences;
  • Two years for any offense not listed in this section and does not carry a life sentence;
  • Four years for anyone convicted of murder, kidnapping, train wrecking, bombing, or Military or Veterans Code 1672(a), or any person convicted of an offense carrying a life sentence.


  • The nature of the charge(s) you were convicted of;
  • Your prior criminal history;
  • Whether you pose an unreasonable risk of danger to society;
  • Reports from Prison Officials While you were Incarcerated;
  • Whether you’re likely to re-offend;
  • The planning and sophistication of your crime;
  • The reason you’re seeking a certificate of rehabilitation;
  • Whether you’ve served as a productive member of society after discharge;
  • Whether you violated terms of your probation or parole;
  • Whether you committed any other offenses since your conviction;
  • The length of time since the crime occurred.


A certificate of rehabilitation seeks to restore both civil and political rights.  It will not however, delete the conviction from someone’s record.  Some of the benefits when obtaining this remedy include: upon ordered, it automatically serves as a recommendation and application for a pardon from the Governor of the state of California; a person may become eligible or enhance their eligibility for state licensing; and it may relieve someone from having to register as a sex offender.  Additionally, as part of a self-fulfilling achievement, someone obtains this remedy to show that the past is behind them and they are no longer the same person they once were.  Furthermore, you cannot be denied professional licensing on the sole basis of the conviction,[1]  and cannot be impeached as a witness in the event a person testifies at a trial or hearing.[2]


  • Misdemeanors, except certain misdemeanor sex offenses
  • Person serving in the Military
  • Persons Sentenced to Death
  • Persons Serving a Life without Parole Sentence
  • Penal Code 286(c)
  • Penal Code 288
  • Penal Code 288a(c)
  • Penal Code 289(j)


A sex offense can carry a life-time requirement to register as a sex offender under Penal Code 290.  Such a requirement carries embarrassment and humiliation even long after someone has been rehabilitated.  A common reason for petitioning for a certificate of rehabilitation is to end sex offender registration completely.[3]  Moreover, once a petition has been granted, it may relieve someone from having to register as a sex offender.  Since the court deems someone fully rehabilitated, they no longer are deemed a threat on committing new offenses.


  • Character Letters
  • School Transcripts
  • Certificates of Achievements
  • Psych Records
  • Proof of Employment
  • Satisfactory Proof of being a California Resident for the last 5 years


Based out of Southern California, our office handles all client’s seeking a certificate of rehabilitation all through the state of California.[4]  The procedure requirements are relatively the same in all jurisdictions since California state courts are held and follow the same law.  We take it upon ourselves to truly get to know our clients prior to filing the petition.  This will include in depth discussions regarding their past, family life, employment, hobbies, and future goals.  We believe it’s important since it helps us formulate persuasive arguments in support of deeming a client fully rehabilitated.  Contact our office today to schedule a consultation with an experienced Newport Beach criminal defense attorney. We can help you obtain one of the best post-conviction remedy and move on with your life.




[1] California Penal Code 480(b) – defined (“(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code, a person shall not be denied a license solely on the basis that he or she has been convicted of a felony if he or she has obtained a certificate of rehabilitation under Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 4852.01) of Title 6 of Part 3 of the Penal Code or that he or she has been convicted of a misdemeanor if he or she has met all applicable requirements of the criteria of rehabilitation developed by the board to evaluate the rehabilitation of a person when considering the denial of a license under subdivision (a) of Section 482.”)

[2] California Evidence Code 788 – (“For the purpose of attacking the credibility of a witness, it may be shown by the examination of the witness or by the record of the judgment that he has been convicted of a felony unless: (b) A certificate of rehabilitation and pardon has been granted to the witness under the provisions of Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 4852.01) of Title 6 of Part 3 of the Penal Code.”)

[3] California Penal Code 290.5(a)(1) – (“(a) (1) A person required to register under Section 290 for an offense not listed in paragraph (2), upon obtaining a certificate of rehabilitation under Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 4852.01) of Title 6 of Part 3, shall be relieved of any further duty to register under Section 290 if he or she is not in custody, on parole, or on probation.”)

[4] We handle Certificate of Rehabilitation petitions in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura, San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside, Kern, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, San Francisco, Fresno, Imperial Valley, Monterey, and Santa Cruz.

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