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.


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.


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.


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 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.

Related posts

Notify of
We welcome a lively discussion with all view points - keeping in mind...  
  1. Your submission will be reviewed by one of our volunteer moderators. Moderating decisions may be subjective.
  2. Please keep the tone of your comment civil and courteous. This is a public forum.
  3. Swear words should be starred out such as f*k and s*t
  4. Please stay on topic - both in terms of the organization in general and this post in particular.
  5. Please refrain from general political statements in (dis)favor of one of the major parties or their representatives.
  6. Please take personal conversations off this forum.
  7. We will not publish any comments advocating for violent or any illegal action.
  8. We cannot connect participants privately - feel free to leave your contact info here. You may want to create a new / free, readily available email address.
  9. Please refrain from copying and pasting repetitive and lengthy amounts of text.
  10. Please do not post in all Caps.
  11. If you wish to link to a serious and relevant media article, legitimate advocacy group or other pertinent web site / document, please provide the full link. No abbreviated / obfuscated links.
  12. We suggest to compose lengthy comments in a desktop text editor and copy and paste them into the comment form
  13. We will not publish any posts containing any names not mentioned in the original article.
  14. Please choose a short user name that does not contain links to other web sites or identify real people
  15. Please do not solicit funds
  16. If you use any abbreviation such as Failure To Register (FTR), or any others, the first time you use it please expand it for new people to better understand.
  17. All commenters are required to provide a real email address where we can contact them.  It will not be displayed on the site.
  18. Please send any input regarding moderation or other website issues via email to moderator [at] all4consolaws [dot] org
ACSOL, including but not limited to its board members and agents, does not provide legal advice on this website.  In addition, ACSOL warns that those who provide comments on this website may or may not be legal professionals on whose advice one can reasonably rely.  

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

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 story literally brought me to tears of happiness for you but also for the hope it gave me and I’m sure thousands of other men who were caught in a sting. Please let me know. Take care and thanks in advance.

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 you’re going to file in L.A. County then I would absolutely put my faith in Rose, Maryam and attorney Jane Marpet. Judge Sam Ohta may have an intimidating presence, but he’s a reasonable man. I don’t just say that because he granted me my certificate. I witnessed how he handled several other cases before he called my name. He even smiled on occasion while court was in session, so I knew he wasn’t devoid of his own humanity.

For those filing for their CoR’s, once it’s granted you don’t necessarily have to wait a few months. My removal only took a matter of weeks, and that’s likely due to the fact that I called DOJ myself to inquire about being removed from the website. The receptionist at Rhonda’s office said that I could email them a scanned copy of my CoR, which I did. After a week following the email, as I recall, I was removed. Remember, even public defenders don’t have all the accurate and up-to-date information, and they really don’t concern themselves with how DOJ goes about their business. And it’s also not automatic that DOJ will alert all the other departments, such as Angel Watch Center or DMV (your criminal record shows up on your driving record too, and you may have to call their Sacramento office if it’s not automatically removed). So it’s highly recommended that you do your own work. It’s a little tedious, sure. But you’re cleaning up what’s essentially the aftermath of a nasty legal mess. Oh yeah, and make sure to also contact the agency where you registered to confirm that they received the notice from DOJ!

Speaking of Angel Watch Center, my friend who got his CoR and relief last year sent them a simple form called a Certificate of Identity (at the bottom of there’s an optional section authorizing ICE to release any and all information related to you. I, of course, would leave that blank) which you fill out and attach along with any document confirming that you are no longer registered. They replied to him within a day or so informing him that they won’t be on IML and receive the “passport marking provision.”

As for cleaning up the information on background check sites, make sure you do your due diligence on the company you hire. I know about and their firm Higbee & Associates, who in my experience have not been very attentive in returning my calls in a timely manner. So I would advice you to also check out as they have an “only pay for results” policy. Whichever service you decide to hire, make sure that they provide you a list of ALL the background check sites they claimed to have removed you from.

Now, I’m not so sure they also help remove you from mugshot sites like or, or “people finder” sites such as Spokeo or Instant Checkmate. Understand why this is critically important because, unlike background check sites, which in most cases employers or landlords will have to pay to access your criminal background, anyone can simply Google your name and find you thanks to sites like

As for, as I alluded to in my own CoR thread, they’ll remove you once you message them on their site requesting it. You will likely be contacted by someone via email named “Tom,” who, mind you, does not seem like the sharpest knife in the drawer. He requested the “expungement doc,” so I sent him the scanned copy of my Order for Dismissal. Apparently he doesn’t understand that this is the official expungement document, because he said it wasn’t what he was requesting and wouldn’t specify exactly what he needed. He just kept asking for the “expungement doc.” So I then sent him a copy of my expungement filing as well as the minute order for my case and told him that those were all I had. He finally removed my photo and info from the site.

So, to recap, you must be extremely diligent in keeping tabs on what people can access online. In the spirit of service, which I had mentioned before that I am committed to for this community, I will be posting a list of the sites I removed myself from and how I went about doing it for each instance. Whether it gets its own post or gets placed in this or some other thread will depend on the moderator.

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.



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 review. We are just being safe he says. What options do I have and how can I find the info i need any help is appreciated thank you

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.

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

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 change? I really don’t think, MOT should have to register anymore once the COR was granted. Are we sure they know what they are talking about in court? It isn’t the first time that they need to be educated about the law. If the COR does not relief, one would think that offense wasn’t eligible for a COR in the first place and would need a governor’s pardon. Can someone please enlighten me?