At Wallin & Klarich, our criminal defense attorneys collectively have decades of experience successfully helping people like you apply to be relieved of their legal obligation to register as sex offenders as specified in California Penal Code section 290[i]. We have filed countless applications for a “Traditional” Governor pardon on behalf of our clients. Whether you reached this point by clicking through our guide, or because you simply wanted information about this area of law, we are here to help you to understand what a “Traditional” Governor pardon is, and whether it might be used to help you stop registering as a sexual offender for good.

What is a “Traditional” Governor Pardon in California?

“Traditionally,” applications for a pardon were made directly to the Governor. The California Constitution provides that “the Governor, on conditions the Governor deems proper, may grant a reprieve, pardon, and commutation, after sentence, except in case of impeachment. The Governor shall report to the Legislature each reprieve, pardon, and commutation granted, stating the pertinent facts and the reasons for granting it.  The Governor may not grant a Governor pardon or commutation to a person twice convicted of a felony except on recommendation of the Supreme Court, 4 judges concurring.” (Cal. Const. Art V, § 8(a).)[ii]

Unless you have been convicted two times (or more) of a felony, the governor has the sole discretion to either grant or deny your application for a Governor pardon. If granted, the pardon does not seal or destroy the record of your conviction. (Pen. Code, § 4852.17.)[iii] In fact, as noted above, the Constitution requires that, when the governor grants a pardon, a report must be made to the California Legislature.

When Can I Apply for a California Pardon?

There is nothing in the law that dictates how long one must wait before filing a “traditional” pardon application. That said, the Governor has stated[iv] that it is his general policy not to consider an application for a Governor pardon until after 10 years – unless there’s a compelling reason given for him to consider it sooner.

Getting A Pardon Seems Like A Long Shot. Is It Worthwhile To Even Bother Applying?

Governor Pardon - Don't suffer any longer
Don’t let your past mistakes continue to haunt you. Call us and find out how to apply for a Governor Pardon.

The Governor is very selective when granting pardons, however, that’s not to say that it’s impossible either.  A Governor pardon is granted to be certain, but the application for a pardon needs to be solid. Effort must be made to distinguish your application from the others that the Governor receives. This is where a skilled criminal defense attorney comes in. Wallin & Klarich attorneys collectively have decades of experience helping people like you apply for a “traditional” Governor pardon.

So, you ask, is it “worth it” to try? We can’t answer that question for you, but we can give you some things to think about as you ponder this question for yourself.

If you’re tired of being punished long after you’ve paid your debt to society, and you can’t stand the idea of being punished for the rest of your life for one mistake you made years and years ago, you owe it to yourself to give serious consideration to applying for a “traditional” Governor pardon. Even if the application does end up being denied, at least you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you did everything possible. Not to mention, this may not be your only option.

Is There Any Other Way To Stop Registration Other Than A Governor Pardon?

Governor Pardon - Sex Offenders
A Governor pardon is considered a great honor and may be your way of getting off of the sex offender list.

We like to explore other options too – if they’re available. Again, we’ve been at this for a long time, and, if there are other options to be had, we’ll find them. The “traditional” Governor pardon application is the option of last resort for us too.

The answer to the question about the availability of other options is a phrase you hear a lot from lawyers – it depends. If you’ve used our “guide” you might have reached this section because being granted a “traditional” Governor pardon is the only legal way for you to legally stop registering as a sex offender. Perhaps, too, there are things you might have overlooked, or there might be aspects of your case that need to be explored by an experienced California criminal defense attorney that might change this calculation. As we’ve said, getting a pardon is not easy. If there are other ways around having to go that route, we’ll find them for you. If there are no other options, we’ll give you the best possible shot at getting that pardon and making it so you can stop registering as a sex offender in California for good.

What are “some of the ways around it”? Well, they include getting your felony California sex crime reduced to a misdemeanor California sex crime, which will allow you to apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation and Governor’s Pardon, which gives you a better chance of legally stopping sex offender registration. Also, your case might fall within the class of cases described by the California Supreme Court in People v. Hofsheier and People v. Picklesimer. If it does, we can explore filing a petition for a writ of mandate for you that will allow you to get a hearing in front of a judge, and, at the hearing, the judge has the authority to relieve you of your obligation to register as sexual offender in California.  

Are There Any Other Benefits To Getting A Governor Pardon?

Governor Pardon - Satisfaction
One of the most frequent reasons given for seeking a Governor pardon is personal satisfaction, but there are many other benefits too.

California Penal Code section 290.5(b)(1)[i] provides that a Governor pardon will relieve you of the legal obligation to register as a sexual offender in California.

Additionally, getting a Governor pardon is considered a great honor and a privilege. It is given to people who have truly reformed their lives and have lived a useful, productive, and law-abiding life since they have been convicted. According to the Governor’s office, one of the most frequent reasons given for seeking a pardon is personal satisfaction.

There are other benefits too:

  1.  A person who receives a pardon may legally serve on a jury. (Code Civ. Proc. § 203(a)(5); Pen. Code § 4852.17.)
  2. A person convicted of a felony who receives a full and unconditional pardon may be employed as a state parole officer or as a county probation officer (but they cannot otherwise be employed as a peace officer.) (Gov. Code § 1029(c).)
  3. People who are convicted of felonies cannot lawfully possess firearms. (Pen. Code, § 12021.) A person convicted of a felony who receives a full andunconditional pardon from the Governor may own or possess any type of weapon that may lawfully be possessed by others in California, unless the person was convicted of an offense that involved the use of a dangerous weapon. (Note: A California pardon does not necessarily permit the possession of weapons under the laws of another state or the federal government. If this is a specific concern for you, we can advise you about these issues.)
  4. Finally, we note this because being able to legally vote is a concern for many people convicted of a felony and there might be some confusion over this issue. In many states, being a convicted felon means you cannot legally vote for the rest of your life unless you receive a pardon from the governor in that state. This is not the law in California. Under California law, after you are convicted of a felony, you may not vote in California only for so long as you are in custody and/or on probation, or parole. Once you are released from custody AND you’re no longer on felony probation or parole, your right to vote is automatically restored (assuming you meet the other legal requirements to vote in California, for example you must be a United Stats citizen and you must reside in California). (Cal. Const. Art. II, § 4.)

We Can Help You – Give Us A Call Today

Wallin & Klarich’s team of criminal defense attorneys have decades of combined experience in helping people just like you seek and obtain relief from sex offender registration. We have helped countless people apply for a “‘Traditional’ California Governor Pardon,” and we’re confident we can help you too.

Contact us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL (877-466-5245) for a free, no obligation consultation.

[i] Information on Penal Code 290 retrieved from

[ii] Information on California Constitution Article V Section 8(a) retrieved from

[iii] Information on Penal Code 4852.17 retrieved from

[iv] Information on Governor’s statements retrieved from

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