Will a California governor's pardon prevent my criminal history from affecting my immigration status?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Jan 05, 2017 | 0 Comments

You may have read recently about the large number of California governor's pardons granted at the end of 2016 by Governor Jerry Brown. In fact, Governor Brown has far exceeded his predecessors in the number of pardons he has granted since he assumed office.

We also know that President-elect Donald Trump's promise to speed up deportations has many immigrants to America worried about their future in this country--particularly those with deportable crimes or inadmissible crimes on their record.

Unfortunately, like many common forms of relief in California, a governor's pardon will probably not eliminate the immigration consequences of a criminal conviction.

This is because federal immigration law does not recognize post-conviction relief that it considers "rehabilitative." "Rehabilitative relief" includes governor's pardons--as well as more common forms of relief like Penal Code 1203.4 PC expungement of criminal records.

The only way to avoid the immigration consequences of a conviction for a deportable or inadmissible crime is to obtain post-conviction relief that is based on a legal defect in the underlying conviction. This could include a successful Padilla motion or a motion to overturn a verdict based on ineffective assistance of counsel.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.


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