A person discharged from custody or released on parole or probation for a felony conviction may file a petition for certificate of rehabilitation and pardon under California Penal Code Section 4852.01.
Once granted by the trial court hearing the petition, a certificate of rehabilitation mercly serves as a recommendation that the Governor grant a full pardon to the petitioner, pursuant to Penal Code Section 4852.13.
No filing fee nor court fee of any kind is required of a petitioner seeking a certificate of rehabilitation, under Penal Code Section 4852.09.
Hearing On Court And Required Evidence:
The court hearing the petition may require testimonies as well as documentary evidence from the petitioner and / or the district attorney, who may be requested to investigate: the residence, the criminal record, the representation made to the court by, and the conduct during the period of rehabilitation of, the petitioner as well as any other information requested by the court, under Penal Code Sections 4852.1 and 4852.12.
If after hearing, the court finds that the petitioner has demonstrated his or her rehabilitation and fitness to exercise all of the civil and political rights of citizenship, the court may issue an order declaring the petitioner rehabilitated and recommending pardon by the Governor, under Penal Code Section 4852.13.
The order is filed with the clerk of the court, and is known as a certificate of rehabilitation. It is immediately transmitted to the Governor, to the Board of Prison Terms, and the Department of Justice, under Penal Code Section 4852.14
Persons Not Eligible For Certificate of Rehabilitation:
The following persons are not eligible for certificate of rehabilitation under Penal Code Section 4852.01 (d):
- Persons serving a mandatory life parole (life parolees);
- Persons committed under or serving death sentences;
- Persons convicted of sex offenses in violation of Penal Code Section 286 (c), 288, 288 (a) (c), 288.5 or 289 (j); and
- Persons in the military service.
But persons suspected of a felony or misdemeanor violation of any sex offense specified in Penal Code Section 290, the accusatory pleading (complaint) of which has been dismissed pursuant to Penal Code Section 1203.4, may file a petition for certificate of rehabilitation; provided that the petitioners have not been incarcerated in any prison, jail, detention facility, or other penal institution or agency since the dismissal of the complaint / indictment and is not on probation for the commission of any other felony.
Period of Residence In California Prior To Filing of Petition:
The required period of residence in California for the petitioner for a certificate of rehabilitation depends on the date of release from prison after completion of the sentence term or release on parole. If the release is prior to May 13, 1943, the period of residence is three years prior to the filing of the petition for a certificate of rehabilitation, under Penal Code Section 4852.01 (a).
For the petitioner released on or after May 13, 1943, the required period of residence in California is five years prior to the filing of the petition, under Penal Code Section 4852.01 (b) and (c).
The petitioner is required to present satisfactory evidence of the three-year or five-year period of residency in California prior to the filing of the petition for certificate of rehabilitation and pardon.
Period of Rehabilitation Of 5 Years From Discharge Or Release From Prison:
Aside from residence requirement, Penal Code Section 4852.03 requires a minimum of 5 years' residence in California as the period of rehabilitation to begin to run from discharge from custody due to completion of the term of sentence or upon release on parole or probation, whichver is sooner.
In addition to the five years of period of rehabilitation, four years are added in the case of a person convicted of certain crimes: Penal Code Section 187 (murder), 209 (kidnapping for ransom etc.), 219 (train derailment), 4500 (assault by force etc.), 12310 (unlawful explosion etc.), or commission of an offense carrying life sentence.
Five years are added in the case of a person denied an offense for which sex offender registration is required under Penal Code Section 290, except for certain violations for which only 2 years are added.
And 2 years are added in the case if a person denied of an offense not listed above that does not carry a life sentence.
But the trial court hearing the petition may extend the statutory period of rehabilitation for an additional period of time, which when combined with time already served, will not exceed the period prescribed by statute for the sum of the maximum penalties for all the crimes, if the defensive-petitioner was ordered to serve conscision sentences.
The conduct of a rehabilitated person should demonstrate: (1) living an honest and upright life; (2) with sobriety and industry; (3) good moral character, and (4) conformity to and obedience of the laws of the land, under Penal Code Section 4852.05.
The grant of a certificate of rehabilitation by the trial court raising the petition for certificate of rehabilitation and pardon does not guarantee that the Governor will grant pardon to the petitioner. But it is a required first step as a recommendation.
(The Author, Roman P. Mosqueda, has practiced criminal defense in the Philippines and California for more than 20 years. , or call (213) 252-9481 for free initial consultation.)