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People who have been convicted of a crime in California may apply for a pardon. The Governor of California cannot grant a pardon for a conviction from another state or a federal proceeding.

The Board of Parole Hearings, a division of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, investigates pardon applications. The investigation will include a review of the applicant’s criminal history records, court and police records, and the applicant’s prison record (or C-File), if any.

Pardon applicants will be notified if the Governor takes action on their application or if additional information is required to process their application. If your contact information changes after you apply for a pardon, please notify the Governor’s Office by email at pardons@gov.ca.gov.

Update regarding pardons and sex offense registration pursuant to Penal Code 290: The California Department of Justice will not terminate the requirement to register on the basis of a gubernatorial pardon unless it includes a finding of innocence. More information about petitioning for removal from the registry is available on the California Courts’ self-help website. 

How we review applications

In deciding whether to grant a pardon, the Governor’s Office will carefully review each application and consider:

  • the impact of a pardon grant on the applicant’s family and community, including whether the grant is consistent with public safety and in the interests of justice and, if relevant, any extraordinary circumstances that justify restoration of firearm rights or a pardon in a sex offense case;
  • the age and circumstances of the offense and the age of the applicant at the time;
  • the applicant’s self-development and conduct since the offense, including whether the applicant has made use of available rehabilitative programs and has identified and addressed treatment needs; and
  • the applicant’s need for a pardon.

The Governor is not required to consider an application and there is no set timeline for review. There is no application fee and a lawyer is not required to apply for a pardon.

The Governor cannot grant pardons to applicants with more than one felony conviction without the approval of the California Supreme Court. The Governor’s Office requests this approval if needed.

Applying for a pardon

There are two ways to apply for a pardon in California: by Certificate of Rehabilitation or a direct pardon.

By Certificate of Rehabilitation

One way to apply for a pardon is to first petition for and obtain a Certificate of Rehabilitation from the Superior Court in the county where the applicant currently resides or the county in which the applicant was convicted. When a court grants a petition for a Certificate of Rehabilitation, it becomes an automatic application for a pardon and the court is required to send the order to the Governor’s Office.

Applicants who are eligible for a Certificate of Rehabilitation are encouraged to use that path to file a pardon application. Visit the Judicial Council’s self-help website or contact the Public Defender’s Office in your county of residence for information on how to petition for a Certificate of Rehabilitation.

If a judge granted you a Certificate of Rehabilitation before January 2019 and you did not receive notice of a pardon grant, your application was closed. If you would like Governor Newsom to consider your Certificate of Rehabilitation pardon application, submit a completed Reapplication for Clemency Form (1 page) to the Governor’s Office by email to pardons@gov.ca.gov. If you do not have access to email you can send it by mail to Office of the Governor, Attn: Legal Affairs/Parole and Clemency, 1021 O Street, Suite 9000, Sacramento, CA 95814. The Governor’s Office cannot accept in-person delivery. Please do not send original documents because application materials cannot be returned.

California law requires Certificate of Rehabilitation applicants to provide notice to the Governor’s Office when they file their petition for Certificate of Rehabilitation in Superior Court. The Governor’s Office can accept copies of these notices only by email to pardons@gov.ca.gov, or mail to the Office of the Governor, Attn: Legal Affairs/Parole and Clemency, 1021 O Street, Suite 9000, Sacramento, CA 95814. The Governor’s Office cannot accept in-person delivery.

By direct request to the Governor

The second path to apply for a pardon is to submit an application for a direct pardon directly to the Governor’s Office.

You may apply for a direct pardon without a lawyer.

  1. Submit a completed Pardon Application (2 pages) to the Governor’s Office. You may but are not required to submit additional information or copies of relevant documents in support of your application, such as letters of support or certificates of achievement; and
  2. Submit a completed Notice of Intent to Apply for Clemency (1 page) to the district attorney(s) in the county or counties of the conviction(s) for the offense(s) for which you are requesting a pardon.

Send your completed application and any additional information or supporting documents to the Governor’s Office by email at pardons@gov.ca.gov.  If you do not have access to email, you can send the documents by mail to the Office of the Governor, Attn: Legal Affairs/Parole and Clemency, 1021 O Street, Suite 9000, Sacramento, CA 95814. The Governor’s Office cannot accept in-person delivery. Please do not send original documents because application materials cannot be returned.

If you submitted a direct pardon application before January 2019 and you did not receive notice of a pardon grant, your application was closed. If you would like Governor Newsom to consider your request for pardon, submit a new direct pardon application.