Can A California Governor's Pardon Restore Your Gun Rights?

Can A California Governor’s Pardon Restore Your Gun Rights?

by Nov 12, 2019

If you are convicted of a felony in California, you lose certain rights as a citizen. One of those rights is gun ownership. This means that you lose the right to own or purchase a gun for the rest of your life. One of the very few ways to restore your gun rights is if you receive a California governor’s pardon.

What Is A Governor’s Pardon?

A California governor’s pardon is an honor typically reserved for individuals who demonstrate exemplary behavior after being convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanor sex offenses. Pardons are rare and must be earned.

If you receive a pardon, some or all of the following rights you lost as a convicted felon can be restored, including:

  • Gun ownership rights
  • Requirements to register as a sex offender
  • The right to serve jury duty
  • The right to apply for public assistance and housing without automatically being denied
  • The right to apply for a professional license without automatically being denied

Whoever is the current governor of California has complete discretion in deciding who to grant a pardon. Many people apply for a governor’s pardon each year, and only a handful are usually granted.

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Who Qualifies For A California Governor’s Pardon?

Anyone who has been convicted of a felony, or certain misdemeanor sex offenses, is eligible to apply for a pardon. If you were convicted in a state other than California, you are not eligible for a California governor’s pardon. The governor of California can only pardon individuals who were convicted in the state of California.

You will become eligible for a pardon after a satisfactory period of rehabilitation. Depending on the offense, this period may be anywhere from seven to ten years. During this rehabilitation period, you must not be convicted of any serious crimes. You must also demonstrate exemplary behavior that is deserving of a pardon.

There is no standard definition of “exemplary behavior”, but things that you can do that might help your chances include:

  • Becoming active in your local community
  • Working with charitable and nonprofit organizations
  • Participating in youth drug and/or violence prevention programs

These activities do not guarantee you’ll receive a pardon. They are meant to illustrate the type of behavior that may be considered exemplary when being considered for a governor’s pardon.

How To Apply For A California Governor’s Pardon

There are two main paths you can pursue to apply for a pardon from the governor:

1) Certificate of Rehabilitation: You can apply for a certificate of rehabilitation from the superior court in the county you live. If your application is granted, the court is required to notify the governor’s office. This notice becomes an automatic application for a pardon, and no further action is needed on your behalf.

Obtaining a certificate of rehabilitation typically offers the best chances of being granted a pardon, but is not a guarantee.

2) Direct Request: You can submit an application for a pardon directly to the governor’s office without getting a certificate of rehabilitation.

In both cases, you’ll need to notify your local district attorney that you’ve applied for a governor’s pardon.

Working With An Attorney

If you are considering applying for a California governor’s pardon, you’ll likely need the help of an experienced attorney.

The process of obtaining a certificate of rehabilitation is a technical and complicated area of the law. Here at Quinnan Law, we will walk you through the process and thoroughly investigate your case to determine if you meet the eligibility requirements.

Please contact us today for a free consultation about your case.


At Quinnan Law, we offer every client a free phone consultation to discuss their unique situation and determine how we can help. To arrange a consultation, please fill out the adjacent form or call us at: (707) 540-2356.

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