The San Diego Law Library has compiled a helpful list of resources for people wishing to expunge their criminal record or who wish to apply for a certificate of rehabilitation. The information is based partly on the California’s Court’s Self-Help Center at: http://www.courts.ca.gov/1070.htm and can be used for general information. http://sandiegolawlibrary.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Clean_Up_Your_Criminal_Record.pdf
The Thomas Jefferson Law School has provided a handy summary on the difference between expunging a conviction and obtaining a certificate of rehabilitation. https://www.tjsl.edu/sites/default/files/files/exppwrpt.pdf Only certain convictions qualify for the expunging process.
A request for an expungement, also referred to as a petition for dismissal, is made under California Penal Code § 1203.4 or 1203.4a. The forms you need to file a petition for dismissal can be obtained from the Superior court responsible for the conviction in form packets for misdemeanors and for felonies. These packets include instructions for filling out the forms.
The San Diego County Public Defender’s Office provides assistance with the expungement process. For more information, see: http://www.co.san-diego.ca.us/public_defender/expungement.html For more information about the expungement process see: California Penal Code § 1203.4, 1203.4a. Other public defenders in your county may assist with the expungment process as well.
Obtaining a Certificate of Rehabilitation
A certificate of rehabilitation is a court order which declares that a person who has been convicted of a felony has been rehabilitated. Certificates of rehabilitation do not apply to most misdemeanors. The petition for a certificate of rehabilitation is made under California Penal Code § 4852.01, et. seq. If the petition is granted, it will be forwarded to the governor as an application for a pardon. What does a certificate of rehabilitation do? A certificate of rehabilitation may relieve specific types of sex offenders of the obligation to register as a sex offender. It may also enhance the ability of a person who has been convicted of a felony to receive a license from certain state boards. It will not seal your criminal record or eliminate the conviction as a potential prior if you are convicted of another crime.
Obtaining a Pardon from the Governor
What is a pardon?
A pardon from the governor restores the right to sit on a jury, to seek a position as a county probation officer or state parole agent, and in certain circumstances, restores the right to possess a firearm. A pardon will not seal your criminal record, eliminate the duty to disclose the conviction on job applications when asked, or eliminate the conviction as a prior conviction if you are later convicted of another crime.
How do I get started?
Start by filing a certificate of rehabilitation (if you are eligible). If the certificate is granted, it will be forwarded to the governor as an application for a pardon. See the general information handout in San Diego Superior Court PKT-016 to determine if you are eligible for a certificate of rehabilitation.
If you are not eligible for a certificate of rehabilitation, you will need to apply directly to the governor for a pardon. This type of pardon is called a traditional pardon. Instructions for filing a traditional pardon can be found in San Diego Superior Court PKT-016 for a traditional pardon must write directly to the Governor’s Office to request an application at the following address:
Governor’s Office State Capitol Attention: Legal Affairs Secretary Sacramento, CA 95814
The applicant must complete the Application for Executive Clemency form and return it to the Governor’s Office. In addition, the applicant must send Notice of Intention to Apply for Executive Clemency to the district attorney of each county wherein a conviction occurred at least ten (10) days before the Governor can consider the application itself. See Penal Code §4804.