Commutation from the Governor

The California Governor can reduce the sentence of someone serving a sentence for a state crime. This is called a commutation. It does not erase or seal a record. 


Applications for a commutation go through the Governor's Office. You do not apply through the court.

Who can apply

Someone serving a sentence for a California state court conviction can apply to the Governor for a commutation. The Governor cannot reduce the sentence from another state or federal court.

There is no right to a commutation. The Governor is not required to consider an application for a commutation. The Governor's Office has more information about what they consider in an application, including commutations the Governor has granted in the past

If someone has more than one felony conviction, the Governor cannot commute their sentence without the approval of the California Supreme Court. The Governor's Office handles requesting approval if needed.

How to apply

Apply directly to the Governor's Office

The application and instructions are available from the Governor's Office. There is no fee to apply. You do not need a lawyer to apply. There is no court hearing. When applying, notice must be sent to the District Attorney.

Review and investigation

The Board of Parole Hearings (Board) investigates commutation applications for the Governor’s Office. The Board and the Governor’s Office have access to the commutation applicant’s current prison record, the criminal history records and RAP sheets, and court and police records for current and prior crimes. 

There is no timeline for when the office will review the application. You do not need to take any additional steps. The Governor's Office will contact you if they require additional information.

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Get instructions from the Office of the Governor

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