While it doesn’t happen often, on occasion someone with a past felony conviction decides to run for public office. Here in California, a convicted felon technically can run for office, but there are a number of exceptions to that rule. Unlike many of the other rights that convicted felons lose in the state, running for public office is a bit more complicated.
Requirements For Running As A Convicted Felon In CA
If you want to run for public office in California and have a past felony conviction, there are certain conditions you’ll have to meet.
First, you are legally required to disclose your past conviction, even if you’ve had it expunged from your record.
Second, you cannot run for office in California if the crime you were convicted of included any of the following offenses:
- Buying votes
- Malfeasance in office
- Embezzlement of public funds
- Falsification of public records
- Other “high crimes”
It doesn’t matter if your conviction was at the state or federal level. If you have been found guilty of any of those crimes, you are legally prohibited from running for and holding public office here in California.
Is This Really A Problem In California?
Why do these laws exist? Is there really a problem in California with convicted felons trying to hold office? As much as these laws exist to prevent unscrupulous people from getting into office in the first place, they also ensure that politicians who commit crimes while in office can’t win reelection.
For example, Representative Duncan Hunter plead guilty in December 2019 to misusing campaign funds for personal expenses. Before he pleaded guilty, he lied to investigators and tried to blame all the wrongdoing on his wife.
On the other side of the aisle, Representative Katie Hill resigned in October 2019 after confessing to having inappropriate sexual affairs with aides and campaign staffers.
While she was not charged with a crime, her behavior raised questions about sexual harassment in the workplace and violated the US House of Representatives new rule banning sexual relationships with staff.
If you are a convicted felon and are considering running for office, you should speak with an attorney first.