Don't Let Your Past Limit Your Future

California Certificates of Rehabilitation

Let People Know You’ve Changed Your Life 

Having a criminal record in California makes life more difficult.  A criminal record can limit you from getting the job you want, obtaining housing, getting professional licenses, legally owning a firearm, qualifying for government programs, receiving student loans, and many other opportunities which would otherwise be available to you.

To make matters worse, criminal records in California are typically available to the public without even needing a formal California background check.  Very often, anybody with a connection to the Internet can find your California criminal record. However, California law provides a few different ways for you to clear up your criminal record, each having different requirements and effects on your criminal record.

A Certificate of Rehabilitation does not expunge or seal your record, but it is often the best available solution when ineligible for other post-conviction remedies.  Additionally, as of January 1, 2019, Assembly Bill 2845 has made it an unlawful employment practice for an employer with five or more employees to consider convictions that have been sealed, dismissed, expunged, or statutorily eradicated pursuant to law, or any conviction for which the convicted person has received a full pardon or has been issued a certificate of rehabilitation.

This new law greatly increases the value of a Certificate of Rehabilitation for employment purposes, but there are other distinct benefits to obtaining a Certificate of Rehabilitation. For example, Certificates of Rehabilitation create an automatic pardon application, which we have seen granted more frequently in recent years.

This Information is for You

Since the majority of people reading this aren’t lawyers, we’ve tried to simplify the legal jargon on our website, so regular people may follow along and get the information needed to understand their rights. However, before we get started, we should be clear that some of this information can get complicated, and, in many cases, it’s best to seek the assistance of an experienced lawyer.

To help you understand your rights, our lawyers have developed a tool that can be helpful in figuring out your options. This tool can’t be perfectly accurate in every situation, but our lawyers have invested substantial time and resources working to make it as accurate as possible.

You can get started by using our Secure Eligibility Test, or you can give us a call at (844) 947-3732 to see if our legal staff is available for a free consultationBe aware that our staff is often busy with current clients and a high volume of calls and appointments. If you’re serious about getting rid of your record, your best bet is to take our Secure Eligibility Test and then schedule an appointment to discuss your results and options. 

Can You Apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation?

There are three ways to be eligible to apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation, each with their own set of requirements, which include:

  1. You were convicted of a felony after May 13, 1943 and were sentenced to prison 
  2. You were convicted of a felony or misdemeanor sex offense specified in PC 290 that was eventually dismissed under PC 1203.4.  
  3. You were convicted of a felony and served a prison sentence for which you were discharged from or released on parole prior to May 13, 1943. 

These are the threshold requirements to apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation, but there are additional requirements and ways to become ineligible that we will cover in the section titled “Ineligible Persons to Apply for a Certificate below. 

Felony Convictions Resulting in Prison Sentences

If you were convicted of a felony and sentenced to California State Prison, your best option in dealing with your criminal record is likely a Certificate of Rehabilitation. To qualify, each of the following must be true:

  • You were convicted of a felony after May 13, 1943;  
  • You were sentenced to California State Prison; 
  • You were discharged from custody or released on parole; and  
  • You have continuously resided in California for the five years immediately prior to filing your petition for a Certificate of Rehabilitation.  

This is far less common, but, if you were released from prison prior to May 13, 1943, the requirements to apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation include: 

  • You were discharged or released from prison prior to May 13, 1943; 
  • You have not been incarcerated in a state penal institution since your release; and 
  • You have continuously resided in California for the three years immediately prior to filing your petition for a Certificate of Rehabilitation. 

Convictions for Sex Offenses Under PC 290 

Another way to qualify for a Certificate of Rehabilitation relates to convictions of a misdemeanor or felony sex offense listed under PC 290. To apply through this method for a Certificate of Rehabilitation, you must meet each the following requirements:

  • You were convicted of a misdemeanor or felony listed under PC 290 that was subsequently dismissed (expunged) under PC 1203.4;  
  • You have been discharged from custody, parole, or probation; 
  • You have not been incarcerated in any penal institution, jail, or agency since release; 
  • You are not on probation for the commission of any other felony; and  
  • You have continuously resided in California for the five years immediately prior to filing your petition for a Certificate of Rehabilitation.

Ineligible Persons to Apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation

You are not eligible to apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation if any of the following are true: 

  • You do not meet any of the three sets of requirements in the section above; 
  • You have only been convicted of misdemeanors, unless at least one of those misdemeanors is listed in PC 290; 
  • You were convicted of Sodomy, Incest, or another sexual offense under PC 286(c); 
  • You were convicted of Child Molestation or Oral Copulation with a Child under PC 288 or PC 288a(c); 
  • You were convicted of Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child under PC 288.5 
  • You were convicted of Forcible Penetration of a Child under PC 289(j); 
  • You are serving a mandatory life parole; 
  • You are committed to prison under a death sentence; or 
  • You are currently in military service. 

Additional Time Requirements

To apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation, the standard amount of continuous residency in California is five years from being discharged from incarceration or released from probation. In certain circumstances, you must wait the standard five years and an additional period until you are eligible to file for a Certificate of Rehabilitation.  These situations with additional waiting time include: 

  • Four additional years if you’ve been convicted of PC 187, PC 209, PC 219, PC 4500, PC 12310, Section 1672(a) of the Military and Veterans Code, or any other offense that carries a life sentence;  
  • Five additional years if you’ve been convicted of any offense requiring registration as a sex offender under PC 290, except for convictions for violations of PC 311.2(b), (c), or (d), PC 311.3, PC 311.10, or PC 314 (each of these types of convictions require an additional two years instead of five); or 
  • If ordered by a court, whatever additional years imposed by the court. 

Remember, these waiting periods require that you were a continuous resident of California for the period immediately prior to filing for your Certificate of Rehabilitation.

Is a Certificate of Rehabilitation Your Best Solution?

 If convicted of a felony and sent to prison, it is unlikely that you qualify to expunge or seal your record, unless (i) you qualify under the provisions of Proposition 64 (relating to marijuana convictions); or (ii) your offense was prior to 2011, and meets the narrow requirements for expungement under PC 1203.42.  Unless you qualify using one of these two new sets of laws, a Certificate of Rehabilitation is likely the best option for you to address your criminal record.

The most common requirement seeming to disqualify people from expunging convictions in California is that you cannot have been sentenced to California State PrisonAlthough, since the passage of Assembly Bill No. 1115, there are certain situations where someone sentenced to prison may still seek expungement under PC 1203.42. To use this new law, the conviction must have occurred prior to July 1, 2011, and it only applies to certain types of offenses discussed below.

Expungements for Felony Convictions Resulting in Jail Time   

In 2011, California made significant changes to its felony sentencing rules, commonly known as “realignment, under California Penal Code 1170(h).  The main change in “realignment” was that convictions for many non-violentnon-serious, and non-sexual felony convictions could now result in county jail sentences instead of state prison sentences. Since these sentencing rules were not available prior to July 1, 2011, the defendant may have been sentenced to county jail instead of prison and qualified for expungement.

To expunge a California felony conviction that resulted in a prison sentence, the following requirements must be met to qualify under PC 1203.42, including:

  • The sentencing for your felony conviction must have been prior to July 1, 2011 
  • The felony conviction must otherwise qualify for realignment sentencingmeaning the offense must be one of about 500 felony offenses listed in PC 1170(h).  There are many of these offenses which qualify under PC 1170(h), including those on this list; 
  • You cannot have been convicted of a sex crime requiring registration;  
  • You cannot have been convicted of a “Violent Crime described by PC 667.5(c), and as a result; 
  • You cannot have a “Serious” felony  conviction listed in PC 1192.7(c);  
  • It cannot be a conviction for an “Excluded” offense, which can be found by taking a look at this list; and 
  • You must otherwise qualify for expungement, as California’s new law only modifies the requirement that you not be sentenced to California State Prison to qualify for expungement. The rest of the general qualifications for expungement still apply under PC 1203.42. 

Remedies for Marijuana Convictions Under Proposition 64 

If you were convicted of a marijuana-related felony that resulted in prison time, you may be able to dismiss or even seal the conviction using newly enacted Proposition 64. However, the new methods of relief in Proposition 64 only apply to the following four criminal offenses:

  • Possession of Marijuana under HS 11357; 
  • Cultivation of Marijuana under HS 11358; 
  • Possession of Marijuana for Sale under HS 11359; or 
  • Transportation, Distribution, or Importation of Marijuana under HS 11360 

If you were not sent to prison for a felony conviction for one of the above offenses, a Certificate of Rehabilitation is likely your best option. But, if you were sent to prison for one of the above offenses, please visit our California Proposition 64 page for more information.

Advantages of Certificates of Rehabilitation

While a Certificate of Rehabilitation will not remove a conviction from your record, it is often the best remedy available, particularly if you served time in prison. Despite this, a Certificate of Rehabilitation is more than just a piece of paper, especially after the passage of Assembly Bill 2845, which has recently made it illegal for an employer with at least five employees to consider convictions for which the convicted person has been issued a Certificate of Rehabilitation.

With Certificates of Rehabilitation, the two most common questions our firm is asked relate to employment and firearm rights. There are many more benefits to a Certificate of Rehabilitation, so we’re going to discuss each.

How will a Certificate of Rehabilitation help me get a job?  

A Certificate of Rehabilitation should improve your employment prospects, particularly with Assembly Bill 2845, as it is an official document demonstrating a person’s rehabilitation.   In addition, a Certificate of Rehabilitation will typically improve your chances in obtaining a professional license, as PC 4853 prevents licensing boards from automatically denying your application for a professional license.

Will a Certificate of Rehabilitation restore my Second Amendment Rights?  

On its own, a Certificate of Rehabilitation will not restore your firearm rights; however, a Certificate of Rehabilitation automatically creates a pardon application, which is sent to the California Board of Parole Hearings for review. The Board is then required by Assembly Bill 2845 to issue a recommendation to the Governor within one year on whether to issue a pardon.

In recent years, California has issued more pardons than ever, but obtaining a pardon that restores your firearm rights is not a given. Our firm has had pardons granted via Certificates of Rehabilitation in the past, but, more often than not, they are not granted. Regardless, if you’ve served prison time in California, a Governor’s pardon is likely the only way to restore your firearm rights.

We will go into more detail regarding restoring Second Amendment rights in California on our California Firearm Rights Restoration page, but restoration typically involves both state and federal law that should be handled by an experienced lawyer. The lawyers in our firm regularly handle complex firearm rights restoration issues, so a good first step in exploring whether you can restore your firearm rights would be to take our Secure Eligibility Test. Then, if appropriate, set up a time to speak with our legal staff about how to proceed.

What You Need to Do to Get Rid of Your Record

If you are tired of having a criminal record hold you back, reach out to us by taking our Secure Eligibility Test or by giving us a call at (844) 947-3732. Our law firm has helped thousands of people with criminal records move on in life, leaving many of the negative effects of a criminal record behind.  Our experienced attorneys and legal staff are here to help you figure out what criminal record clearing services best fit your needs, and then help you accomplish your goals.  Using our secure, confidential Eligibility Test is the best way to get the process started.

Some of the potential benefits of expunging your criminal record in California include:

  • Removing  a finding of guilt and closing the case on your criminal record to help you get a better job  
  • Becoming eligible for professional licenses you previously did not qualify for 
  • Restoring your Second Amendment Right to bear arms (with a subsequent pardon) 
  • No longer being treated as a felon 
  • Increased eligibility for student loans, housing assistance, and government programs 
  • Improving your ability to obtain higher-paying job opportunities 
  • Improving access and admission to college and other educational resources 

We Are Here to Help

Each of California’s methods for dealing with your criminal record have different requirements and are meant for different circumstances.  To move forward, it’s important to determine what California criminal record services are available to you, and then select the services that will provide the greatest benefit. Eastman Meyler, PC is here to help you navigate this very specific area of California criminal law, fight to protect your rights, and assist you in moving forward in life without the effects of a California criminal record.

You can trust that you will get exceptional service from our law firm, as we have an A Rating from the Better Business Bureau, and prestigious attorney rating services such as Thompson Reuters and Avvo list our attorneys as Super Lawyers and Superb Attorneys.  Our law firm has attorneys licensed to practice law in all California state courts, provides low price guarantees, and is here to fight for you and put your criminal record behind you!

The Benefits of a Clean Record

  • Get the job you want and make more money
  • Travel internationally without worrying
  • Reduce the cost of loans and insurance
  • Quit worrying about what people will find in a background check
  • Truthfully tell employers that you have not been convicted
  • Put your past mistakes behind you

What else do you want to know?

See If You Qualify