Ambrosio E. Rodriguez

LOS ANGELES CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY
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California Certificate of Rehabilitation

Los Angeles Certificate of Rehabilitation AttorneyYour life will change when you’re convicted of a felony in Los Angeles. Things won’t necessarily go back to normal once you’ve completed your criminal sentence. You’ll find that you’ve lost many of the rights and privileges you once enjoyed.

Your release from custody won’t automatically reinstate those rights. However, you can petition to the court to issue a Certificate of Rehabilitation.

Certificates of Rehabilitation in California

A Certificate of Rehabilitation is the first step in asking for a Governor’s Pardon in California. It’s a court order that attests to the fact that you’ve been rehabilitated since your release from state custody. It will only be issued when you can show the court that you’ve made positive changes in your life and are making a solid effort to leave your criminal behavior in the past.

When you can do this, you’ll get a document that can make it easier to move on with your life. It’s important to know that your Certificate of Rehabilitation will not seal or erase your criminal record. However, it does limit the negative effects that criminal record has in your life.

What a Certificate of Rehabilitation Will Do

A Certificate of Rehabilitation can be an incredibly powerful tool as you try to move on with your life after a felony conviction. Benefits of a Certificate of Rehabilitation include:

  • Hard evidence to show employers that you’ve been rehabilitated
  • Enhances your ability to secure state licenses (e.g., nursing, contractor, real estate appraiser, chiropractor)
  • Employers can be prohibited from asking about your conviction
  • Restores certain civil rights, and
  • Prevents your conviction from being used to impeach you as a witness.

In certain instances, a Certificate of Rehabilitation can also lift the obligation to register as a sex offender with the state.

What a Certificate of Rehabilitation Won’t Do

There are clear benefits to filing a petition for a Certificate of Rehabilitation. However, it is important to understand that a Certificate of Rehabilitation has certain limitations. A Certificate of Rehabilitation will not:

  • Prevent your conviction from being used a “prior offense” if you are arrested in the future
  • Reinstate your 2nd Amendment rights
  • Expunge your criminal record, or
  • Authorize you to deny having been convicted of a crime on a job application.

However, your Certification of Rehabilitation is an automatic application for a Governor’s Pardon. A Governor’s Pardon has significant benefits and can offer relief from many of the burdens imposed by your criminal record.

Qualifying for a Certificate of Rehabilitation

Not everyone will qualify to receive a Certificate of Rehabilitation. Generally speaking, you must have been convicted of either (a) a felony or (b) certain misdemeanor sex crimes.

Eligibility Following a Felony Conviction

You may qualify for a Certificate of Rehabilitation if you:

  • Were convicted of a felony offense not punishable by life in prison or death;
  • Served a sentence in a California state correctional facility;
  • Completed your sentence and/or were released on parole;
  • Have not been incarcerated since your release; and
  • Have lived in the state of California for at least 5 years since your release.

Eligibility Following a Sex Offense Conviction

You may qualify for a Certificate of Rehabilitation if you:

  • Were convicted of a felony or misdemeanor sex offense, which was dismissed after successful completion of court-supervised probation;
  • Have not been re-incarcerated;
  • Are not on probation or parole for a felony; and
  • Have lived in the state of California for at least 5 years since your release.

You cannot qualify for a Certificate of Rehabilitation if you were convicted of any of the following sex offenses:

  • Felony sexual battery
  • Rape or sexual assault
  • Child molestation
  • Sexual assault of a child
  • Lewd acts with a child
  • Oral copulation by force or with a child
  • Continued sexual abuse of a child
  • Felony statutory rape
  • Sex act with a child under the age of 10
  • Child molestation
  • Felony pimping or pandering
  • Assault with the intent to commit a sex crime, or
  • Kidnapping with the intent to commit a sex crime.

Waiting Period to File a Petition For a Certificate of Rehabilitation

When you file a petition for a Certificate of Rehabilitation, you’ll have to prove to a court that you’ve been rehabilitated. A judge will want to see that you’ve made a commitment to making positive changes in your life. These changes can’t happen overnight. It will take time. This is why there’s a waiting period that must be satisfied before you can file your petition with the court.

In most cases, you’ll have to wait at least 5 years from the date of your release to request a Certificate of Rehabilitation. State law also requires that you’ve lived in California for these 5 years. There are certain instances when you may have to wait an additional 2, 4, or 5 years before you can file your petition for a Certificate of Rehabilitation.

Additional Two-Year Waiting Period

California law requires you to wait a total of 7 years to file a petition for a Certificate of Rehabilitation if you were convicted for:

Additional Four-Year Waiting Period

California law requires you to wait a total of 9 years to file a petition for a Certificate of Rehabilitation if you were convicted for:

  • Aggravated kidnapping
  • Assault likely to cause great bodily injury
  • Acts involving explosive devices likely to cause great bodily injury or death
  • Train mayhem
  • Murder, or
  • Any crime that is punishable by life in prison.

Additional Five-Year Waiting Period

California law requires you to wait a total of 10 years to file a petition for a Certificate of Rehabilitation if you were convicted of a sex crime that requires you to register as a sex offender.

The state does have the authority to consider and grant your Certificate of Rehabilitation before you’ve satisfied the minimum waiting period. However, this typically only happens in very limited situations in which doing so would serve the interests of justice.

Applying for a Certificate of Rehabilitation

Once you’ve satisfied the minimum waiting period, you have the right to file a formal petition for a Certificate of Rehabilitation. This is, of course, only if you’ve been convicted of a felony or one of a limited number of misdemeanor sex crimes. Here’s how the process will unfold.

1. Complete and File Necessary Paperwork

The process will formally begin when you secure, complete, and submit the necessary paperwork with the Los Angeles Superior Court. You’ll need to be prepared to complete all of the following documents:

  • Petition for Certificate of Rehabilitation & Pardon, and
  • Notice of Filing of Petition for Certificate of Rehabilitation & Pardon.

You can file a single petition even if you’re seeking a Certificate of Rehabilitation for more than one crime.

Why do you need to complete forms for a pardon? The Certificate of Rehabilitation is the first step in getting a full Governor’s Pardon. If your Certificate is granted, you’ll automatically be recommended for a Governor’s Pardon.

2. Obtain a Copy of Your Police Report

The court will want detailed information about your criminal history and the crimes for which you are seeking a Certificate of Rehabilitation. You’ll need to provide details about your conviction (crime, date of conviction) and criminal sentence (specific requirements and date of completion).

The easiest way to provide this information is by getting a copy of your criminal record. You can get a copy at the court where you were convicted or the California Department of Corrections.

3. Gather Proof of Rehabilitation

The court will only grant a Certificate of Rehabilitation if it’s persuaded that you’ve been rehabilitated. You will have to provide evidence to show the court that you’ve made positive permanent changes in your life. The more information you can provide to support your argument, the better your chances of securing a Certificate of Rehabilitation.

Evidence that will help you prove that you’ve been rehabilitated can include proof of:

  • Consistent employment and/or education
  • Residency in California
  • Completion of drug and alcohol counseling
  • Completion of domestic violence counseling
  • Voluntary participation in therapy and behavioral counseling, and
  • Volunteering in your local community.

It can also be helpful to provide letters of recommendation from friends, family, clergy, community officials, or employers.

4. Attend Your Certificate of Rehabilitation Hearing

The Superior Court may schedule a hearing to consider your petition for a Certificate of Rehabilitation. If it chooses to do so, it will notify the Governor’s office and the district attorney(s) involved in your conviction(s). Both will have the opportunity to formally contest your application.

Your hearing is your opportunity to tell the court why you deserve a Certificate of Rehabilitation. The judge presiding over the hearing will consider any evidence and testimony that’s presented. This includes any opposing arguments offered by the state.

It’s best to make sure that you have an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney by your side during this hearing. It’s your shot to get a Certificate of Rehabilitation, and you need to be certain that you put forward the very best arguments.

Need Help?

A Certificate of Rehabilitation can offer a lot of relief from the burdens imposed by a felony criminal record. The restoration of civil rights and political privileges can have a huge impact on your life. It can make getting a job a lot easier, and, in some cases, it can even lift the obligation to register as a sex offender. If your Certificate of Rehabilitation is granted, you’ll also be automatically recommended for a full Governor’s Pardon.

You need to make sure that your petition for a Certificate of Rehabilitation is as strong as it can possibly be. The best way to do this is by hiring an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer to handle your case. Call the Rodriguez Law Group to schedule a free consultation with our legal team. We’ll review your case, explain your rights, and answer the questions you have.

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