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A California Governor's pardon is an honor traditionally granted only to individuals who have demonstrated exemplary behavior following a felony conviction. A pardon will not be granted unless it has been earned. This is why obtaining a pardon is viewed as an achievement based upon proof of a useful, productive, and law-abiding life following conviction. The Governor has complete discretion in deciding whether or not to grant a pardon. A pardon is a privilege, not a right, and is not granted to every person who applies. 

There are also certain restrictions to know about in determining whether you are eligible to apply. For example, absent extraordinary and compelling circumstances, an application will not be considered unless the applicant has been discharged from probation or parole for at least 10 years without further criminal activity during that period. The 10-year rule, however, may be waived in truly exceptional circumstances (for example, if WILL & WILL, LLP obtained a ruling of factual innocence for you). If the applicant can demonstrate such circumstances warranting a specific need for the pardon, it may be granted regardless of the 10-year rule. 

Applications may be accepted from any person who has been convicted in California of a felony or certain specified misdemeanor sex offenses. In most cases, the first step in applying is to obtain a Certificate of Rehabilitation from the superior court in the county where the applicant currently resides. This is why you need the lawyers of WILL & WILL, LLP on your side. We know these things and can work to obtain them for you. All other cases are by way of a direct or "traditional pardon" application. The procedure utilized will depend on the circumstances of each individual. 

Once an application is filed under either procedure, the case is referred to the Board of Prison Terms (“Board”) for investigation. The Board may contact the district attorney, investigating law enforcement agency, and other persons with relevant information on the applicant to aid them in determining whether he/she should be eligible for a gubernatorial pardon. When a pardon is granted, the California Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are notified so that they may update their records on the applicant. The pardon is also filed with the Secretary of State, reported to the Legislature, and is a public record.

WILL & WILL, LLP has the experience you need on your side to ensure you have the best opportunity possible to get your Governor’s Pardon granted. Call us or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation about obtaining a Governor’s Pardon.

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