Legal Blog

Governor’s Pardons in California

Published on February 16, 2021

In California, Governor’s pardons are a type of post-conviction relief that the governor can grant to those convicted of a crime, but now demonstrate that they have been rehabilitated. A pardon relieves the individual of many, though not all, of the consequences and penalties that come with a criminal conviction.

Advantages of a California Governor’s pardon:

There are many benefits of receiving a governor’s pardon. These benefits include:

  • The right to serve on a California jury
  • Improved employment opportunities, including the right to work as a state parole officer or a county probation officer
  • California firearm rights restored
  • Relief from having to register as a sex offender (under PC 290)
  • The right to apply for a state professional license
  • The right to not have witness credibility impeached because of the conviction, and
  • A defense to deportation for lawfully present immigrants

Who is eligible to receive a California Governor’s pardon?

In order for an individual to be eligible for a pardon, their crime has to have been convicted in California, as the Governor of California is unable to grant pardons for convictions from a different state or country, or for a federal proceeding or military offense. Individuals convicted in another state must apply for a pardon in that state, while federal and military convictions can only be pardoned by the president of the United States.

Following a satisfactory period of rehabilitation, almost anyone convicted of a crime in California can apply for a pardon. The length of this period of rehabilitation depends on the crime, and can range from anywhere from seven to ten years. This period begins when the applicant finishes parole or probation,  during which the applicant must not get convicted of any serious crime. The applicant also must be able to show that they are deserving of the honor of a Governor’s pardon.

Two ways to apply for a pardon in California:

There are two ways to apply for a California Governor’s pardon. It can be done by either a Certificate of Rehabilitation or a Direct Pardon. The applicant must notify the district attorney of the county of the conviction that a pardon application has been submitted, regardless of which method they use to apply for the pardon.

Applying by a Certificate of Rehabilitation

Applicants eligible for a Certificate of Rehabilitation (COR) can apply for a pardon by petitioning for and obtaining a COR from the superior court in their county. Once the petition for COR is granted, it automatically becomes an application for a pardon, which the court must send to the Governor’s office. After this, the applicant does not need to do anything else unless contacted by the Board of Parole Hearings or the Governor’s Office. There are some cases in which applicants are not eligible for a COR, as detailed here, but where the traditional pardon procedure can be used.

Applying by a Direct Request to the Governor

A traditional (direct) pardon is open to those not eligible for a Certificate of Rehabilitation, where the applicant submits an application directly to the Governor of California’s office. This application is available through http://www.gov.ca.gov. The Governor must have a majority of the California Supreme Court recommend a grant of clemency before being able to grant a pardon application to someone with two or more felony convictions. The Governor’s Office itself will send the pardon application and all other related documents to the California Supreme Court for review.

Categories: Uncategorized

Spolin Law Client Walks Free Hours After DA George Gascon Dismisses Murder Charges

Published on February 2, 2021

Yesterday a Spolin Law client tearfully reunited with his mother after a long period of imprisonment for a murder he did not commit. The dismissal was formally handed down by Judge Shellie Samuels of Department 112 in Van Nuys Courthouse.

The murder dismissal came about in great part because of the newly-elected District Attorney, George Gascon. Mr. Gascon had campaigned on a promise of criminal justice reform, and he has been quick to implement a series of “special directives” that show increased compassion for inmates and criminal defendants.

Aaron Spolin was the lead attorney on the client’s case, and he was assisted by other attorneys at Spolin Law, including Caitlin Dukes, Matt Delgado (of counsel), and Jeremy Cutcher.

This case had already received significant media coverage for Judge Samuels’ earlier decision to reject the DA’s attempt to dismiss the gang enhancements. (See media coverage: Judge Opposes Gascon’s Reforms, Los Angeles Daily News, 12/17/20. Gascon Blacklists Judge for Policy Noncompliance, Fox 11 Los Angeles, 12/16/20.) The judge eventually gave in on the dismissal of the gang enhancements and then, yesterday, agreed to dismiss the entire case.

The client owes a great deal to his mother, who was an absolute fighter and never gave up on him. She had retained Spolin Law for her son’s case and encouraged the firm’s aggressive practice of filing extensive legal motions in court.

As attorney Jeremy Cutcher pointed out: “I’ve never seen a mother so involved in her adult-son’s case. And in the end, she got what she was fighting for. It’s wonderful to see.”

To speak with Mr. Cutcher, Mr. Spolin, or any attorney at Spolin Law about your own case, call us at (866) 716-2805.

Categories: Criminal Law Murder

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