If you were convicted for any crime other than a minor traffic offense, you already know that your criminal record can severely limit your ability to hold many better-paying jobs, receive financial aid for education, own a firearm, or hold an elected office. The State of Pennsylvania recognizes this problem and has enacted laws that allow those convicted of many non-violent crimes to have their criminal records either removed from public access by “sealing or, in some cases, cleared as if a crime never happened.
The “sealing” or removing a criminal record from public inspection generally applies in cases that involve non-violent offenses that were committed while legally considered as a juvenile. Certain non-violent offenses committed by adults can be removed from public scrutiny through a process called expunction.
Sealing and expunction, with certain technical exceptions, accomplish the same goal: they remove your record from access by any individual or public business. It is important to remember that either action does not remove a conviction from your record but only restricts access to a record for a conviction to law enforcement agencies or to those who can convince a court that they have a valid reason to be granted access to you record.
If your criminal record does not meet the criteria set forth to qualify for sealing or expungement, you may still be eligible to apply to the Governor of the State of Pennsylvania for a pardon. In Pennsylvania, the governor’s power to pardon is not absolute, meaning that he or she is obligated to follow the recommendation of the state’s Board of Pardons.
In Pennsylvania, an application for a pardon begins with an application that is filed with the Board of Pardons. This application must include the “official” application form that can be obtained from your attorney or purchased from the Board of Pardons. It is best to obtain this application from your attorney simply because there may have been changes in state law or to the procedures that must be followed that may have not been included in the form’s instructions.
Once you have the necessary forms from the Board, you are responsible for obtaining all the required official records from several state agencies as well as any other documentation that must be obtained to prove to the Board that you deserve a favorable recommendation for a pardon. The required documentation includes, but is certainly not limited to:
- Official copies of your State Police criminal record
- Proof of employment history such as pay stubs, W2 or 1099 forms, evidence of additional income to including VA benefits, Social Security, or alimony/child support
- Educational history prior to and after your conviction
- Evidence of your reentry into the community as documented by character references
Once the Board has you completed application package, which can easily be a year or more after you file. you will be granted a hearing before the board to present you case as to why you should be pardoned by the governor.
From the information that is presented above, you can easily see that the process for obtaining a governor’s pardon in Pennsylvania is both very detailed and time consuming. If you are sincerely interested in applying for a pardon, your first step should be to click here where you can contact an attorney who is familiar with the recent changes in Pennsylvania law that expanded the types of offenses that may be pardoned.
A pardon represents an opportunity to permanently remove a barrier to a much brighter future. The best way to open new doors begins with seeking the assistance of a qualified attorney.