Pardons

When you’re convicted of a crime, the resulting criminal record can haunt you for the rest of your life. A serious misdemeanor or felony conviction is a black mark that may show up on background checks when you apply for a job, a security clearance to do government work, or a professional license. A conviction may prevent you from owning or possessing a firearm, renting an apartment or house, or from being admitted to college. A conviction might even affect custody of your children or your immigration status.

If you are convicted of an offense and serve your sentence or fulfill the conditions of your alternative disposition, Pennsylvania allows you to clear your record under certain circumstances. The pardon, expungement, and/or limited access to criminal history processes may be worth considering if the circumstances are right. Our firm can help you determine if you are eligible to pursue any of these options and assist you in correctly completing and filing the specific paperwork required.

WHAT IS A PARDON?

A pardon is a process that can get your criminal conviction erased from your record. Unlike an expungement or limited access application, which can be used only under certain circumstances, a pardon must be obtained in order to clear your record of serious misdemeanor and/or felony offenses. Moreover, a pardon is not limited to a single criminal conviction. If granted a pardon, all of your cases are eligible to be expunged from your criminal history.

A pardon is granted by the Governor, usually based on the recommendation of the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons following a very lengthy process of investigation and decision-making. Pardons are not easy to get, but can remove obstacles to getting a job, exercising your second amendment rights, housing, a college degree, or a professional license after your conviction(s).

WHO CAN GET A PARDON?

Any person who has been convicted of a crime in Pennsylvania can apply for a pardon.

HOW DO I GET A PARDON?

The process for getting a pardon is lengthy, complicated, and bureaucratic. It typically takes a few years from the time you file your application for a pardon until the Board of Pardons makes a recommendation whether you should receive a pardon. Generally, the steps in the process are:

  • File an Application — This is a complicated process and our firm will assist you in filling out the application, collecting the necessary documentation to be submitted, and compiling a complete pardon package. We can also assist you in fixing an application that you attempted to submit on your own that has been returned to you for corrections by the Board of Pardons.
  • State Parole Agent Interview — As part of the process, a state parole agent will come to your home to interview you and assess whether you are contributing responsibly to society. After the interview, the agent writes a report for the Board. You must be willing to participate in this interview process.
  • Board of Pardons Review — All of the materials related to your pardon go to the five-member Board of Pardons for review. That includes your application and supporting documents, parole agent’s report, and may include opinions submitted by the judge, district attorney, and/or the victim(s) involved in the case(s). The purpose of the review is to decide whether you get a public hearing on your pardon application. It can take the board a year to decide whether to grant a hearing or deny your application for a pardon without a hearing.
  • Hearing — If you get a hearing, you have to go to Harrisburg to speak to the Board. Our firm will accompany you to the hearing and we will answer any questions the Board may have regarding your application for a pardon.
  • Board of Pardons Vote — The Board will then vote publicly whether to recommend your pardon to the Governor. At least three members of the Board have to vote to recommend your pardon for your application to move forward to the final step in the process.
  • Governor’s Decision — If the Board recommends your pardon, the recommendation is then forwarded to the Governor. The Governor makes the ultimate decision about your pardon. Typically, the Governor will follow the recommendation of the Board but has the ability to deny your pardon even if the Board has recommended that it be granted. It can take as long as a year for the Governor to decide on your pardon.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I GET A PARDON?

If the Governor grants your pardon, then you get a signed document from the Governor’s office. We will then petition the court where you were convicted for an expungement of your criminal record(s). Once a judge approves your expungement, the offense, all police reports, and even your fingerprints, will be destroyed and cleared from your record.

I WAS CONVICTED OF VERY SERIOUS CRIMES. AM I CANDIDATE FOR A PARDON?

YES! A pardon application has little to do with the crimes you committed. Murderers on death row have successfully applied for commutations of their sentence. What is important to think about in assessing the likelihood of a successful pardon application is your growth as a person since your conviction(s). Contact us today to discuss the totality of the circumstances surrounding your conviction(s) and find out if the pardon process is appropriate for your personal situation.