Pardons And Commutations


Maybe you served your time and got out, but still feel like you’re paying for your Napa Valley crime because your criminal record is preventing you from getting a job. Or you had sex with your 17 year old girlfriend when you were 19 and the state convicted you of statutory rape, so you have to register every year as a sex offender. But now that you have a wife and kids, you’d really like to be able to stop. It’s even possible that you’re still in prison but believe that you’ve served enough of your time and deserve a reduced sentence due to any number of different factors.

If any of these scenarios describe you or one of your loved ones, it might be in your best interest to look into how pardons and commutations work in California. Both involve lots of paperwork and other administrative legal tasks, so you should talk to an experienced Napa Valley pardon and commutation lawyer to learn exactly what’s involved, and which one is right for your specific situation.

Napa Valley Attorney: What Is a California Governor’s Pardon?

Everyone has heard of pardons. We’ve watched TV shows and movies where the death row inmate gets a last second reprieve by the governor and their life is saved. But is that what pardons are like in real life?

For most people, California Governor’s Pardons are not quite so dramatic. In fact, the vast majority of people getting them are doing so in order to get a particular job or have the personal satisfaction of knowing that the governor believes they’ve led an exemplary life since they were convicted.

A California Governor’s Pardon doesn’t expunge your conviction or erase your arrest records. If you are an immigrant, it won’t stop you from being deported. When asked if you’ve ever been arrested or convicted, you’ll still have to answer honestly (though you are certainly allowed to mention the pardon, too). And if you are convicted of another offense after the pardon, the original pardoned offense can be used against you to harm your credibility or justify increasing the length of your sentence.

What it does do, though, is reinstate most of the rights you had before your conviction. After you receive a pardon, you can:

Anyone who has been convicted of any California crime is eligible for a pardon. In order to receive one, individuals have to apply, but there is no fee involved and you can even represent yourself, if you wish to do so.

However, most people in Napa Valley opt to get an attorney experienced with the pardon because the process is so complex. In general, you need to have been discharged from parole or probation for 10 years or more (without getting involved in any new criminal activity) before the governor will even review your application. There are, however, exceptions, such as if you can get a ruling of factual innocence regarding your crime.

Napa Valley Attorney: What is a California Commutation?

In short, a commutation in California is closer to that original “TV” description of a pardon: it is a request made to the governor to shorten your existing sentence based on things like good behavior that you’ve shown, a medical condition, or another extenuating circumstance that you believe presents a valid reason why you should be able to get out of prison early.

To receive a commutation, you need to fill out a petition and turn it in to the governor’s office. There are a number of steps involved, including filling out the petition and notice of intent, getting it notarized, and sending it out via certified mail to every county where you were convicted of a felony. Then the DAs have to complete an Acknowledgment of Receipt and turn it in to the governor’s office, as well as any other important information.

There are more steps even beyond that, which is why most people in Napa Valley utilize the services of a qualified attorney with commutation experience. If you or someone you know is serving out a sentence for a crime or would like to get back some of the rights you used to enjoy before your conviction, talk to a Napa Valley pardon and commutation attorney to learn more.

By Steven Taxman

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