There are many Californians who can’t get a job or move on with their lives due to damaged reputations because they’ve served time for their criminal mistakes. One way for some people to clear their record is a court order called a California Certificate of Rehabilitation. Although the individual’s criminal record isn’t erased, the Certificate states their criminal history is in the past. This Certificate of Rehabilitation lets the rest of society know the individual has satisfactorily served their time and has become a “rehabilitated” and upstanding member of their community.
The California Certificate of Rehabilitation is a court ordered document stating that you have served your time for any past criminal activities. It can help you with employment opportunities as well as obtaining professional licenses. If you have been convicted and served time for sexual crimes, in some instances it also removes the requirement of registering as a sex offender.
California Penal Code sections 4852.01 – 4852.21 determine who can obtain a Certificate of Rehabilitation and how they are issued.
To obtain a Certificate of Rehabilitation an individual or their attorney must file a petition with the California Superior Court. Eligibility requirements include a “satisfactory period of rehabilitation” consisting of a specific length of time during which you have not participated in any criminal activity. This period consists of five years as a California resident immediately prior to filing your petition plus two to five years determined by the specific crime you were convicted of. Consulting a qualified criminal attorney will let you know if you have met the required “period of rehabilitation” as well as help you file the necessary petition and required application forms, character letters, and other related documents.
After receiving the petition, a hearing date will be set by the court. Before the hearing you should try and meet with the agency that originally prosecuted you in order to get their support. It takes an average of 120 days from the time the petition is file to the hearing date. This varies depending on the county you live in.
At your hearing, you must present favorable evidence in order to convince the judge you should receive a Certificate of Rehabilitation. Rarely will the judge not require you to personally attend this hearing.
Different from the motion to seal and destroy your arrest records, a Certificate of Rehabilitation applies to criminal convictions as well as arrests. While this Certificate won’t erase the past, it can help restore some civil rights that you lost when you were convicted. Once your Certificate of Rehabilitation has been granted, there’s an automatic application filed for a Governor’s Pardon, the ultimate Certificate of Rehabilitation.