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Living with 290

Living with 290: Success Story – Certificate of Rehabilitation and Removal from the CA Registry

I want to share a success story of overcoming the confines of being a registrant, and the practical steps I took. Of course, every case is different.

On February 22, 2018, I was granted a Certificate of Rehabilitation and relieved of the duty of having to register. After 11 years, the oppression was lifted just like that. After I gathered my jaw from the floor, I went down to the court cafeteria and just sat there. Pondering what just happened and the new possibilities.

I was convicted of an “Attempted Lewd Act” [PC 664-288(a)] in January 2007 after a high profile, albeit hugely controversial, sting operation that netted many including myself.

DISMISSAL

In 2013, I attended a job workshop where one of the guests spoke of an organization that prepares expungement petitions for free. Every Wednesday after 4 pm., Neighborhood Legal Services open their doors and their on-site attorneys help the community fill out petitions for expungement at no cost. All I had to do was file it at the court where I was convicted. It’s worth checking out, and I notice they still have an active website.

Neighborhood Legal Services has locations throughout Los Angeles County. I went to the location in El Monte. The address is:

Neighborhood Legal Services of L.A. County
Workers’ Rights Clinic, Wednesdays 5 pm to 8pm
9354 Telstar Avenue
El Monte, CA 91731
(800) 433-6251

One must bring a witness to the courthouse when filing the petition so they can sign a document.

About 4 months later, I received a copy of the judge’s decision and minute order in the mail. In a nutshell, he ordered that my case be dismissed. However, the petition to have the case reduced to a misdemeanor was denied. Nonetheless, I was blown away and could not believe it at first. I had to read it a few times and rub my eyes to make sure. My case was dismissed. I was ecstatic.

Some recommended that I wait a few years (I waited five years) after conviction before filing for an expungement. That shows the judge that time has passed without any new criminal charges.

There was one sticking point, however. Per California law, I was still required to register as a sex offender. I learned that one must have 10 years of clean record in order to file for a Certificate of Rehabilitation.

CERTIFICATE OF REHABILITATION

Over the years as a registrant, people like my probation officer and public sources made me aware that the Los Angeles County Public Defenders Office has a unit that handles Certificate of Rehabilitation requests at the court. Because I was convicted of an “attempt,” I knew I qualified. I just didn’t know to what extent. Would I qualify for just a COR? Would I qualify for removal from the registry? I thought it would just be the COR.

The contact person Rose Castellanos at the Public Defender’s Office (213) 974-2912, took my information. She informed me that I must fill out a form with my personal information and the reason why I want a COR. I must also provide letters attesting to my character from 4 friends or associates who have known me for 5 years or more.

I filled out the provided form. However, regarding the questions on why I want a COR and why am I deserving of it, I decided to type out my response as it would be longer than the few lines provided. In fact, I wrote about 6 pages or so of a concisely crafted response, including the determination from a required psychological evaluation that I did not suffer from “pedophilic disorder.” I also shared about my true transformation after an encounter with the love of God while I was in jail. I really put my heart and soul into it while keeping it briskly paced and professionally written.

On the day of the hearing, I brought copies of the cited psychological evaluation and related paperwork as I took my seat in the courtroom. The public defender asked me for a copy of the psych evaluation, so I was glad I was organized and she was impressed. After huddling with the lawyers from the DOJ and the judge, his honor read out his ruling. My public defender interpreted to me that the judge ordered that I am no longer required to register. At that point, it gets a little foggy as I recall she asks a simple enough question: “Are you happy?” I remember mustering a nod as I was in an utter state of confused shock. It was fine having the COR, but having my registration terminated was just a mind-blowing, out-of-the-park victory.

The ruling was under penal code 290.5, in which a new California ruling was implemented only a few years before (2013, I believe) that allowed for more types of sex offenders to be allowed a COR and termination of having to register. Just imagine. Only five years prior, I probably would have been granted a COR but likely denied the termination of having to register. Let that sink in. I give God ALL the glory. He makes a way where there is no way.

AFTER THE COURT ORDER

The public defender also warned me that the CA Department of Justice takes a few months to remove me from the registry.

A couple of months after the hearing in February, I noticed I was still in the registry. Therefore, I did some research and was provided the phone number of the area at the Department of Justice that maintains the registry, (916) 210-3113. The officer at the DOJ said they did not have any paperwork of a ruling so he asked me to fax them a copy of the court order. After another follow-up, they finally removed me from the registry in April 2018. That was followed by an official letter from the CA DOJ indicating that my requirement to register has been terminated. They definitely needed to be pushed and prodded for me to be removed.

In the weeks and months after my removal from the registry, I did some spring cleaning of my search engine results page and images. I was able to remove images of my mugshot and references of me as a registrant by simply asking the search engine or the website to take it down per court order. And they did.

My next step is to be sure any mention of me as a registrant is removed from many of the subscriber databases out there used by landlords, prospective employers, etc. I don’t want my history as a registrant to show up on those databases. Therefore, I plan to hire a company called Recordgone.com that is run by a law firm. For a fee, they scour 650 private background check companies and have them remove the information I want gone per court order. You can’t trust these databases because they are often filled with errors or outdated information.

At one point, Rose Castellanos from the Los Angeles County Public Defenders’ Office indicated that I did not qualify for a COR. However, I recall I was told differently so I told her. Rose checked with a co-worker attorney and called me back to say I was correct. Please note that Rose is not an attorney but a paralegal. She makes mistakes.

I hope this encourages those out there that are unsure whether you qualify. An “attempt” qualifies you for petitioning for a COR. The rest if up to the judge.
Art

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Thank you for the encouraging post. I have the exact same conviction that was also expunged in 2010. I was convicted in 04. Everything I’ve read and been told says that any subsection of 288 and any attempts thereof are not eligible. My conviction was in LA County but I live in San Bernardino County. I’m going to make an appointment at the public defenders office in Rancho Cucamonga Monday. I know that they will say I’m not eligible. What can I tell them that will get them to dig deeper and accomplish what you were able to? Reading your… Read more »

I am working with Miriam at the LA Public Defenders office in their Cert of Rehab division, I have a 664-288(a) and she says yes I can get a Cert, takes a few months to get the paperwork and to get in front of a judge. My offense was in Stanislaus Country but I live and was living in LA county . Mine was also a sting by sheriff department . Contact the the Public Defenders office and ask for the Cert of Rehab division. Best of Luck

Ron, I am so glad that my testimony encouraged you. I pray that the Lord will make a way for you to be removed from the registry. Do what you can, but also surrender the results to Him. The reason for the confusion in your qualification is because of the recent addition to the laws that allow certain registrants and those that were charged with an “attempt’ to be included. I think the law changed in 2013 but I am not a lawyer. But stand your ground if they tell you otherwise. Also, I know you are getting it done… Read more »

Thank you so much for your kind words. This is a huge turning point in my fight for my life. I’ll be diligent and pursue all your suggestions. Thanks for the guidance. I’ll post here once I get some word back.

thumbs up.

I just received a COR in San Bernardino County on Feb 20th, Joshua Tree was the court location. My conviction was in L.A. County but I had been living in S.B. County for some years. I had Chance O for my attorney. The best of luck to you. If you start running into walls or become overwhelmed I suggest you talk to Chance. He knows his stuff really well.

A hearty congratulations! Your immediate reaction reminded me of exactly how I felt when I was granted my certificate in January. It was truly surreal, and I felt like I was in a dream that I hoped I would never wake from. Well it’s indeed a reality, and you’ve proven once again that, not only can someone with your offense be relieved of his duty to register, but that the Certificate of Rehabilitation Unit at the public defenders office is very competent in handling these matters. Perhaps in other jurisdictions you may be better off retaining private counsel, but if… Read more »

Thanks for another encouraging comment. This community has made a huge difference in my life for many years. I admire your commitment to others in our position and am looking forward to sharing my experience during thie COR process. Thanks again to all of you who responded and congratulations on your success navigating this maze of a legal system.

Congrats and thank you for sharing!

You were very organized that you also included clearing your background after receiving the court orders. I never would have thought of that b/c I’m too mired in misery. I wished I could qualify for the CoR, but the new law takes place just before I can officially apply. Still, I love hearing good results from this community. God Bless you!

Art – that is so awesome! Even though I am in Florida and the laws differ, I am still encouraged that ANYTHING is possible! I would like to speak with you directly about your process and the faith to see it through.

Best,

Christian

That is great and I am very happy that times are changing. I am wondering if this will work for Federal cases?

So on August 6th I went in for my annual registration. Was told it was terminated. I am an interstate compact from Washington state my crime voyeurism first degree. (Not a registrable offense in CA) so I call my po and he says they are investigating it and will let me know. Now two days later he calls says its reactivated and that I need to go in on next available time and register. I ask what happened he says to me that the doj is missed a file and they are getting files from Washington and they are under… Read more »

Call Washington state registry office (whatever/wherever that is). Hear it from the horses mouth. Also, Ca PO can contact them via the interstate compact and get an answer in minutes if they so choose. Whatever you do, do not violate…. get it in writing, cover YOUR ass.

I’ll also be filing a CoR in Fresno County in the near weeks ahead. A tremendous help to all of us who are eligible would be sample letters, redacted of course, submitted through this website. Those would be incredibly valuable to the ones filing. I would say letters of personal reference as well as the letter submitted that explains why you should be granted the CoR.
Thanks to all.

Sorry this is coming in late. If you’ve already submitted your character letters by the time you’re reading this then I hope that they’re more than adequately written. However, if you or anyone else here would like to see a sample letter then you may use the one I’ve pasted below as an example. The following redacted letter was what I consider the best among the ones I submitted with my CoR packet, although I would still advise wording at least part your letters your own way rather than simply copying and pasting the entire unredacted portion. Hope this helps.… Read more »

Yes I have sent the letters ; Priest, Lawyer, Doctor and Deacon…all have known me for over 30 years each. They basically said what you recommeneded . Also mentioned my crime as recommended by the Public Defenders office. My court date is in Oct in LA Superior Court. Just interested in seeing if I can cruise to Mexico and what happens in the days / months after the court date
Thanks

Well, as of now I don’t think you would even want to try taking a cruise there. I know you’d love nothing more than to hop on that boat, but if you’re still on the registry then, depending on which cruise liner you plan on taking, you won’t even be allowed to purchase a ticket as they have been banning registrants altogether. There were previous posts about this very topic. And even if they did let you on the cruise, you still won’t be allowed entry into Mexico. They might make an exception if you were born there. Otherwise it… Read more »

Free Again; I understand there is only one courtroom and one judge who handles these cases. I have worked with the LA Public Defenders and they only do Cert of Rehab from this department. My crime was a 664-288(a) so it all seems to line up for a COR and relief from registration. My crime was back in 2001 so it has been a long time; so glad to read on this site about others who have had their COR. Wonder if anyone of us will ever seen a pardon from the governor ? Thanks for you replies and I… Read more »

I remember you now from the thread under my previous post about my own CoR story. I’m still not happy that the public defender’s office initially misinformed you about your situation, which I found grossly negligent on their part. But I’m glad you persisted and got the clarification which prompted you to file for the certificate. After reading the original post here, I would say that, unless you somehow royally screwed up along the way, I’m feeling very, very optimistic about the outcome.

Dear Free Again; I have my court date for my COR on this Thursday in LA Court ; just want to know if the Judge asked you any questions when you went before him? I have not met face to face with anyone in the REHAB Office but assured by Miriam Singer this is the way it is done. Just a bit nervous and hoping you can belay my concerns
Thanks

@Mot The judge asked me nothing as far as I remember. Whatever he said was pretty brief. It all happened in what felt like 30 seconds, no joke. As usual, he’ll ask the D.A. if he had any objection, and in my case the D.A. said no, which will hopefully be his response for you as well. Then the judge will announce that your rights are restored and that you’re relieved of your duty to register. You can ask the public defender’s office which judge you’ll be facing. If it’s the same one as mine (Sam Ohta) then it’ll be… Read more »

I have a court date next month for my Cert of Rehab. I have worked with LA Public Defenders office. One question for those who already received a COR: has anyone applied for and gotten a clean Passport and have traveled to Mexico or Canada? Was the COR enough to get you access to Mexico and or Canada

I would check out the International Travel section on this site. My friend received his passport recently after getting his CoR and having his registration terminated. There is no unique identifier in his passport. If you got a passport while you were registered and it contains an IML unique identifier, then you’ll need to fill out a Certificate of Identity and email it to Angel Watch Center. Once approved, you’ll need to get another passport. If you never applied or received a passport while you were registered and are now trying to apply for one following termination, then you should… Read more »

Thanks I am not really interested in Canada as much as Mexico for a cruise. After I got out of prison I took a cruise to Mexico but then only needed Drivers License (2004) and I have let my Passport lapse so I will need a new one
Thanks

Free Again…I had my court date to day and the Public Defender said to delay since the regular judge was not on the bench today and the judge who took his place is anti SO. Also, now she is saying he DA wants to see a report from a psychologist that would show I am not likely to reoffend; so new date od Dec 5th

@Mot Well, this certainly wasn’t the news I and I’m sure many others here were expecting to read from you today, but then the worst case scenario didn’t play out either. How frustrating this must be though. A psych report was never requested for my certificate hearing. When I was filling out my packet I asked Rose if I needed one, and I even volunteered to go and obtain one figuring that it could only help my case. But she said that based on her experience this is only necessary when the court requests it, which is obviously what’s happening… Read more »

Do you have to wait the full 10 years or are there exceptions to the wait time for a cor? I have a misdemeanor police sting I was on backpage looking for an escort.

A psych evaluation is not *required* documentation, but in some counties you better believe you get nowhere without one. And it isn’t cheap. Good thing is, if the evaluation is not everything you hoped it would be, you are under no obligation to submit it, you can go on to the next shrink to see if it turns out better. Of course you are obligated to pay for it. My husband’s lawyer gave him a list of psychologists / psychiatrists who had done work for the court, and who were highly thought of by court personnel. I was under the… Read more »

@Peter

You should know by now what I’m about to say: consult with an attorney.

I can tell you this much. Your offense is a very light misdemeanor, so you might very well be able to file for your certificate sooner than 10 years. By the way, did you already get it expunged? If not, then you should take care of that ASAP! Unbelievable that they made you register for such an offense. I sure hope they didn’t also put you up on the public registry for that!

Question…I received my COR last week in LA County Superior Court BUT they are still saying I need to register … the Public Defender Office does not have an answer as to why it has change since you and others got their COR for similar offense as mine 664-288(a) … do you know why and when this change went into effect. My offense was in 2001 and I was released from prison in 2003 ? Any place where I can appeal to get off Megan Site…has anyone had a Pardon from Newsom for a similar offense

Thanks

Conviction under 288(a) is NOT eligible for a CoR. That yours was an attempt (664) is probably what helped you get that. Otherwise, I’m surprised it was granted but not surprised that you still have to register because it is a 288(a) attempted or otherwise. From what I’ve heard over and over again from Janice and Co. is that not one person who has a sex offense conviction has ever been granted a governor’s pardon. Ever.

As NPS stated any conviction for any section of 288 is not eligible to be relieved of registering except by gubernatorial pardon. I am not a lawyer but that is what is spelled in 290.5 Having the attempted (664) on your charge let you get the 1203.4 and therefor the COR. California Supreme Court ruled that an attempted crime was not the same as the crime itself. Then based on the language of the laws attempted crimes have had a window to get the dismissal and COR. If I remember the new tiered law correctly this access is removed under… Read more »

Free Again; I want to understand and find out how you were able to get off registration ; the Judge left that obligation to register in my COR and same in the formal paperwork. Now I have to wait until 2021 and when the Tiered goes into affect I can appeal to the judge ,
Le me know if you have found any other way around registration and the ability to get a “clean” Passport
Thanks

@Mot First of all, I apologize taking so long to respond. I did read over your various posts since your CoR hearing, and I was mostly disheartened that, while you were granted your CoR, you were denied removal from the registry. I was certain that it would happen for you, but after reviewing doing some more research on PC 664-288(a) as well as comments from others here I realized that I was indeed mistaken. Aside from removal, I know that your main concern is the marker on your passport. Well, as of now there’s no way for you to work… Read more »

Hello all,
I encouraged my husband to ask here, but looks like he hasn’t. He registers in San Mateo County and I wss wondering if anyone has been successful in receiving a COR in this county and if so, was termination of registration granted? I know it is a very conservative county so I’m hoping for the best. His charge was 667 288(a) and 288.2(b) internet sting. Thanks in advance for any information!

Peter, did it involve an adult claiming to be a minor? or some kind of battery?

NPS, Interested and MOT ~ Now, I am really confused. I thought a 1203.4 does not relieve you from the duty to register, and that is why you would need a COR. I was under the impression a COR is the only way for eligible offenses to get that relief. Since not all offenses are eligible for a COR, only a governor’s pardon would be the way off the registry for those offenses, BUT those offenses that do qualify for a COR should give you relief from registering. What am I missing, or like MOT said, when did this law… Read more »

@ someone who cares You have made a great logical argument for how most people would or at least should think the laws work. As most have learned living through having to register, laws rarely are logical and definitely confuse people. I agree that Mot, and all others who receive a COR, should no longer have to register. Sadly PC 290.5 spells out who is granted relief from registering upon receipt of a COR. Anyone convicted of 288 is among the codes who are not granted relief. Additionally, on the application for a COR it also states that it does… Read more »

@ someone I agree with your thought process it’s logical and makes sense. Sadly the law specifically addresses what we are discussing with the COR. On the application requesting the COR it states it will not relieve all 290 registrants from having to register. Additionally, PC 290.5 specifically lists all 288 offenses as not be eligible from relief of registering when a COR is granted. It does not make sense and is extremely frustrating! The COR is the court declaring and certifying someone as being fully rehabilitated, and that is significant and important. The 1203.4 does not make that declaration.… Read more »

@someone who cares, You make a great logical argument. Originally, 1203.4 allowed a pathway off the registry if you qualified for it because there was no way off the registry. But by the passing of the law on 2007, in order to get off the registry, the state negated 1203.4 and increased the threshold to the CoR. The 2007 law (PC 290.5) identified that there is a now a pathway off the registry, which is designated as the CoR. Now, not every crime is eligible for 1203.4. For a registrant, in order to get a CoR, you must first qualify… Read more »

New Person:
I am more confused now; is 1203.4 better than a COR? Since I have a COR for my 664/288(a) will I need a 1203.4 also? I know that in 2021 things may change but which is better in the minds of the Courts when I asked o get off REGISTRATION in 2021? Does any of this affect a Passport as I would like to travel overseas; except Canada; in the future. At the very least to Mexico and the Carribean

@Mot In order to get your COR you had to first get the 1203.4 (also called an expungement). Without getting the 1203.4 you can’t not qualify for the COR. Some on here have reported getting both simultaneously. I am not a lawyer, so this is not legal advice. As long as you are required to register you will likely get a marked passport. As such, you are very likely to be denied entry into Mexico and similar countries. To my knowledge, California has not released what the process will be to petition to be removed from having to register. That… Read more »

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