Pardon Philosophy

A Governor's pardon is an honor traditionally granted only to individuals who demonstrated exemplary behavior following the conviction for a crime. A Governor's pardon will not be granted unless it has been earned.

Obtaining a Governor's pardon is a distinct achievement based upon proof of a useful, productive and law abiding life following conviction. The Governor has complete discretion in deciding whether to grant a pardon. A pardon is not granted to every person who applies. See California Constitution, Article 5, ยง8.

Absent extraordinary and compelling circumstances, an application for pardon will not be considered unless the applicant (i.e. the person applying for a pardon) has been discharged from probation or parole for at least ten years without further criminal activity during that waiting period. The ten-year rule may be waived in truly exceptional circumstances, if the applicant can demonstrate a specific need for the Governor's pardon.

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