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How To Apply For A Certificate Of Rehabilitation & Pardon To Expunge Your Record In California

Community Outraged Over Man’s 3-6 Year Sentencing in Self-Defense Case The gun-waving Ward Bird, who started serving a three-year sentence in the New Hampshire State Prison on Wednesday, turned down a plea bargain that could have kept him out of prison, a friend said Friday. Bird started serving his sentence this week, after the New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld his conviction on a criminal-threatening weapons charge. “He could have pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. But he wanted to stand on principle. That’s the kind of person he is,” says Chris Shipp, a Bird friend and Laconia firefighter. Carroll County Attorney Robin Gordon confirmed that Bird had turned down a plea bargain because it would have prohibited him from owning firearms. Meanwhile, an effort appears to be in the works to obtain a pardon for Bird. On Friday, Gov. John Lynch mentioned Bird on his Facebook page, the first posting Lynch made since the day after his reelection more than two weeks ago. He thanked citizens for their comments about Bird, but said he could not unilaterally overturn or reduce a prison sentence. He said a person seeking a pardon submits an application, which is reviewed by the governor and Executive Council. The governor and council decide whether to call a hearing; if they do, they eventually vote on the request, Lynch wrote. Also, Jonathan Tolman, a Moultonborough homebuilder, said state Rep. Betsey Patten has joined in supporting the effort and will be pushing for a pardon for
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Certificate of Rehabilitation

When a term in state prison has been served, there are two ways to obtain relief:

Certificate of Rehabilitation and Pardon, and
Direct Application for Pardon.

Certificates of Rehabilitation are first sought from the trial court. If a certificate issues, the trial court recommends that the governor grant a pardon. The governor has discretion to grant or deny a pardon.

In order to obtain a Certificate of Rehabilitation, the applicant must have been a California resident for at least three years before filing the petition. There is a period of rehabilitation that is required before filing, but the amount of time varies, depending on the underlying criminal conviction.

Dismissal of the underlying charges pursuant to Penal Code Section 1203.4 is not required before seeking a Certificate of Rehabilitation, so long as the person served a prison sentence. If probation was imposed instead of a prison sentence, dismissal must first be obtained, and the defendant must be free from felony probation.

A Certificate of Rehabilitation is a court order that declares a person who has been convicted of a felony is rehabilitated. If a petition for a Certificate of Rehabilitation is granted, it is forwarded to the Governor by the granting court and constitutes an application for a pardon.

The laws pertaining to the Certificate of Rehabilitation are in California Penal Code sections 4852.01 to 4852.21.

Sex Offenses

Someone who has been convicted in California of a felony or of a misdemeanor sex offense may apply to the superior court in his or her county of residence for a Certificate of Rehabilitation, if accusatory pleading of which has been dismissed pursuant to Penal Code section 1203.4, as specified in California Penal Code section 290 (California Penal Code section 4852.06).

Individuals convicted of Penal Code sections: 286(c), 288, 288a(c), 288.5, and 289(j), however, are prohibited from obtaining a Certificate of Rehabilitation.

A Certificate of Rehabilitation relieves some offenders from the sexual offender registration requirement of Penal Code section 290. California Penal Code section 290.5 sets forth a list of persons not eligible for relief from registration. To determine your 290 registration status, contact the Law Offices of Douglas Slain.


A full pardon restores all of the rights and privileges of which the person was deprived, with some exceptions. For instance, a pardon does not automatically restore any license, permit, or certificate that had been taken as the result of the conviction.

A Governor’s pardon is granted only to individuals who have demonstrated a high standard of constructive behavior following conviction for a felony, or in some cases, for certain specified misdemeanor sex offenses.

Pardon applications are not considered unless an applicant has been discharged from probation or parole for at least ten years and has not engaged in further criminal activity.

The receipt of a Certificate of Rehabilitation will be considered in evaluating a pardon application, but it is not the sole determinant, and the ten-year rule may be waived in truly exceptional

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