People who have been convicted of a crime in California may apply for a gubernatorial (Governor’s) pardon. The Governor of California cannot grant a pardon for a conviction from another state or a federal proceeding.
There are two ways to apply for a pardon in California: a Certificate of Rehabilitation and a Direct Pardon.
Pardon Application 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 lives. Once a court grants a petition for Certificate of Rehabilitation, the court is required to send the order to the Governor’s Office, where it becomes an automatic application for a pardon. The applicant does not need to take any further action unless contacted by the Governor’s Office or the Board of Parole Hearings.
Pardon Application by Direct Request to the Governor: The second path to apply for a pardon is to submit an application directly to the Governor’s Office.
In both cases, the applicant must notify the district attorney in the county of a conviction for which a pardon application has been submitted.
Before the Governor can grant a pardon application to someone who has two or more felony convictions (in different cases), a majority of the California Supreme Court must first recommend a grant of clemency. The Governor’s Office will send the California Supreme Court the pardon application and all related documents for their review.
INVESTIGATION & REVIEW
The Board of Parole Hearings investigates pardon applications for the Governor’s Office. 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.
Pardon applicants will be notified when the Governor takes action on an application.
HOW TO APPLY FOR A PARDON
PARDON – REAPPLICATION
If you submitted a pardon application, either by a direct application or by a Certificate of Rehabilitation to a prior governor and did not receive notice of a pardon grant, your application is deemed closed. If you submitted a pardon application in the last three years and would like Governor Newsom to re-open and consider it, you may re-apply for a pardon. To re-apply for a pardon you must take the following step:
- Submit a completed Reapplication for Clemency Form (1 page). Do not re-submit your original application or other documents unless requested to do so by the Governor’s Office or the Board of Parole Hearings.
PARDON – NEW APPLICATION
Applicants who are eligible for a Certificate of Rehabilitation are encouraged to use that path to file a pardon application. Contact the Public Defender’s Office in your county of residence for additional information.
To apply for a direct pardon for the first time or for the first time in three years, you must take the following two steps:
- 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. Explain extraordinary circumstances that justify restoration of firearm rights. Please do not send original documents because application materials cannot be returned; and
- 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.
If you would like to request forms by mail, please send a letter to:
Office of the Governor, State Capitol, Attn: Legal Affairs/Clemency, Sacramento, CA 95814.