Part III – Governor’s Pardon
In the event that you are registering as a sex offender in California, and your offense does not come within the Hofsheier decision, and a certificate of rehabilitation will not be enough to get you off of the registration rolls, there is still hope for you yet in the form of a governor’s pardon. There are two ways to go about seeking a governor’s pardon: the first by way of a certificate of rehabilitation; and the second by way of a “traditional” application for a pardon made directly to the governor’s office. Each will be discussed in turn.
A. Certificate of Rehabilitation
At the outset, you may be asking, why, if a certificate of rehabilitation will not get me off of the registration rolls, should I bother going about applying for one? Well, the answer to that question is that, if the court grants the petition, the clerk of the court is required by law to transmit the order granting the certificate to, among other people, the governor. (Pen. Code, § 4852.14). Thereafter, “[t]he certified copy of a certificate of rehabilitation transmitted to the Governor shall constitute an application for a full pardon upon receipt of which the Governor may, without any further investigation, issue a pardon to the person named therein….” (Pen. Code, § 4852.16). Once a full pardon is granted to the person by the governor, the person is then relieved of the obligation to register as a sexual offender. (Pen. Code, § 290.5, subd. (b)(1).) As you can see, if you can obtain a certificate of rehabilitation, the granting of the petition becomes a pardon application, which the governor may grant without further investigation.
B. A “Traditional” Pardon Application
Brining up this procedure will no doubt have you asking the question of why bother going directly to the governor to apply for a pardon when a certificate of rehabilitation will serve as an automatic pardon application, which the governor can grant “without any further investigation.” The problem is that, under the law, there are certain people who are statutorily not eligible for a certificate of rehabilitation. In addition to those who cannot meet the residency and rehabilitation periods discussed in Part II of this series, the law provides that “persons convicted of a violation of subdivision (c) of Section 286, Section 288, subdivision (c) of Section 288a, Section 288.5, or subdivision (j) of Section 289” of the Penal Code are not able to obtain a certificate of rehabilitation. (Pen. Code, § 4852.01, subd. (d).)
That notwithstanding, the law goes on to make it clear that “the Governor shall have the right to pardon a person convicted of a violation of subdivision (c) of Section 286, Section 288, subdivision (c) of Section 288a, Section 288.5, or subdivision (j) of Section 289, if there are extraordinary circumstances.” (Pen. Code, § 4852.01, subd. (e).) Accordingly, even though certain sex registrants cannot legally obtain a certificate of rehabilitation because of the nature of the crime they were convicted of, that does not stop them from applying directly to the governor for a pardon, and, if the governor grants them a full pardon, they are relieved of the obligation to register as sex offenders. (Pen. Code, § 290.5, subd. (b)(1).)
As you can see from reviewing this three part series, California’s sex offender registration laws are very complex and involved. The firm of Wallin & Klarich has been in the business of helping those charged with and convicted of sex crimes for almost 30 years now, and we pride ourselves in keeping up with the latest developments in the law so that we can best serve our clients. Having to register as a sexual offender, and potentially having your name placed on California’s “Megan’s Law” web site, is not only embarrassing, but could also result in your being incarcerated for a long period of time if you ever “forget” to update your registration when you move, or when your birthday rolls around.
As we have said numerous times in this series, if you, or a loved one, are currently registering as a sex offender in California, there are numerous legal means that we can use to try to seek removal of your or your loved one’s name from the registration rolls. You owe it to yourself to contact Wallin & Klarich for a free consultation from an experienced Southern California criminal defense attorney who will tell you the best way to try to go about seeking to remove your name from the sex offender registration rolls. Call us at 888-749-0034 and visit us at www.wklaw.com.