How to Apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation

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A certificate of rehabilitation is a document stating that you have completed your penalty for felony crimes you committed. It's used in the state of California and is basically a pardon--any rights you lost due to your conviction are restored. Although this doesn't mean that any jobs or licenses that you lost because of the crime are reinstated, it does allow you to start over with a clean slate.

Serve your time. If sentenced to prison, be a model prisoner. If you only have to do probation, be sure that you don't violate it in any way. Check in with your probation officer as required.

Live an honest life. If arrested again, for anything, the chances of you being granted a certificate of rehabilitation decrease dramatically.

Fill out the application and submit it to your county's court clerk's office. Submit any necessary paperwork (you can call ahead and ask what's required) at this time. You can also send the declaration to the prosecutor's office and ask that the district attorney accept your plea for a certificate of rehabilitation.

Find out when your court date is. You'll have to go in front of a judge to make your case. Ask if there is a fee to apply for the certificate of rehabilitation as well as any court fees.

Show up on time and dressed professionally. The judge will determine if he'll recommend that the governor grant you a pardon or not. Speak respectfully, but be firm in making your case.


  • Consult your lawyer if you're unsure of how to go about drafting your motion. There aren't any other ways to apply for this certificate, so make sure you do it right the first time.