Application Procedure

The petition for a Certificate of Rehabilitation (COR) (also known as a Certificate of Rehabilitation and Pardon) must be filed in the Superior Court of the applicant's (i.e. the person who is actually filing the petition) current county of residence. (Penal Code §4852.06.)

The petition for a COR can be obtained from the court clerk, probation department, public defender's office, or can be electronically accessed, completed and printed (if a printer is available) from the Shasta County Public Defender's Internet web site.

The applicant (also known as the 'Petitioner') must notify the district attorney in the county of his or her residence, as well as the district attorney of each county where a prior conviction occurred that is the subject of the petition for a COR that he or she is seeking a Governor's pardon. The notice form is included in the COR packet you get from the court clerk, probation department, or public defender's office, or you can electronically access, complete and print out (if a printer is available) the notice form from the Shasta County Public Defender's Internet web site.

After the petition for a COR is filed in the Superior Court, the applicant is entitled to be represented by legal counsel. And, if the applicant desires to be represented by legal counsel, but cannot afford to hire counsel at his or her own expense, the Court will appoint the Shasta County Public Defender's Office to represent the applicant. (Penal Code §4852.08.)

At or soon after the petition for a COR is filed in the Superior Court, the Court will schedule a hearing. Before the hearing, however, the Court may require an investigation to be conducted by the district attorney's office, or the law enforcement agency originally responsible for conducting the criminal investigation in order to determine if the applicant has been rehabilitated.

At the court hearing, the Court may hear testimony and review records pertaining to the applicant, including information about the conviction offense and the applicant's conduct while incarcerated and since release. In addition, the attorney appointed to represent the applicant may require the testimony of witnesses that would support the applicant's claim of rehabilitation.

If the Court finds that the applicant has demonstrated rehabilitation, the Court may declare the applicant rehabilitated and issue the COR. A certified copy of the COR is sent to the Governor, and other specified entities, and becomes the application for a full Governor's Pardon.

If the court finds that the relevant, admissible evidence does not demonstrate rehabilitation, the court will deny the petition for a COR and must reset the new rehabilitation period, effective on the day of the order, in which the applicant can file a new petition for a COR. See People v. Failla (2006) 140 Cal.App.4th 1514.

Although, upon receipt of the certified COR, the Governor may grant a full pardon without further investigation (except when two or more felony convictions are reported from separate proceedings), in most cases, the Governor will refer the application for parole to the Board of Prison Terms for them to conduct a further investigation. Following review of the Board's report, the Governor may grant the requested pardon.

If the applicant has been convicted of more than one felony in separate proceedings, the California Supreme Court must first approve the granting of a full pardon.

Source: Office of the Governor, Legal Affairs Secretary, California; California Constitution; Penal Code