Gov Brown Issues Nearly 80 Pardons
To close out 2012 with a bang, Governor Jerry Brown made a significant difference in 79 lives. He issued that many pardons—more than some governors do in their entire time in office. Most of those pardoned were small-time drug offenders, according to the LA Times, but all were no doubt extremely grateful for the bit of absolution.
A pardon is essentially a forgiveness. It is usually granted once a sentence is served and acts to basically wipe the slate clean. While the conviction can still be on your record, you are not limited by the laws that exclude felons from various things. An expungement, on the other hand, takes the conviction off your record completely.
For many, a pardon is more symbolic than anything, it’s the recognition that you’ve served your sentence and dedicated your life to being a reformed person, a productive member of society. In some ways, a pardon says you are no longer the person who initially committed the offense.
It isn’t clear how many pardons were denied by Brown. Sixty eligible applications were submitted to the Governor’s office from the Los Angeles County Superior Court alone. The paralegal who processes those applications says he’s only ever seen six granted in his entire career with the county.
While most people were pardoned for nonviolent drug crimes, there were a few exceptions. Eighty-year old Bertha Fairley was convicted in 1971 of involuntary manslaughter. Another drove the getaway car in an armed robbery and was released from prison way back in 1974. One Sacramento man was convicted of grand theft, served one year in prison and became eligible for a pardon in 1973. Now, 40 years later, it was granted.
Criminal charges can affect your life dramatically for decades after the case has been resolved. Sure, prison is a serious consequence, but carrying such a conviction on your head is similarly heavy. If it wasn’t, no one would be seeking a symbolic pardon after 40 years.
Most people who are eligible for a pardon don’t wait around for the governor. Instead, they go through the local Superior Courts to gain a certificate of rehabilitation. It’s free and offers more or less the same level of forgiveness.
The key to minimizing the effects of a conviction isn’t in seeking a pardon or a certificate after the fact, but in avoiding a conviction in the first place.
Whether you are accused of a nonviolent drug offense or a serious assault, you have legal options. Contact us today to talk about them.