What is a Pardon?
A pardon is when an individual’s criminal conviction is excused and erased from his or her criminal record. A pardon must be granted by the governor of Pennsylvania. In most cases, a pardon is the only way an individual can have his or her misdemeanor or felony conviction erased from their criminal record. Misdemeanor and felony convictions are not permitted to be expunged through court proceedings. The Pennsylvania Board of Pardons reported that Governor Tom Wolf granted 78 pardons in 2016.
Who is Eligible for a Pardon?
Any individual who has a criminal record is eligible to apply for a pardon. Although there are not any standards regarding pardons, most of the individuals who are given pardons will have only minor offenses that were not committed within the last five years. For individuals with serious offenses, pardons are usually only granted when the criminal charges were not committed within the past 10 years. Individuals who were convicted of shoplifting or disorderly conduct are more likely to receive a pardon than individuals who commit other crimes. In most cases involving serious offenses, an individual may have to wait several decades to be granted a pardon.
Process and Requirements for a Pardon
According to the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons, there are not any laws in the state that have eligibility requirements for a pardon. Furthermore, the law in Pennsylvania does have a list of factors and guidelines the Board of Pardons must adhere to when evaluating applicants.
The first step an individual needs to take when applying for a pardon is to complete an application. The application must be sent to the following:
The Board of Probation and Parole: These are agents who work for the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole. These agents will complete an investigation for the Board of Pardons, and they will also develop a report about an individual’s personal status.
Here is a list of required documentation that must be presented at the initial meeting with the parole agent:
Proof of residence: This could be a lease agreement, rental contract, mortgage papers, or payment receipts.
Family information and marital status: Documents that satisfy this requirement are divorce decrees, marriage licenses, birth certificate, or death certificate.
Employment verification and history: These documents could be pay stubs, alimony payments, unemployment payments, disability benefits, VA benefits, or any other evidence of income. Applicants should also prepare documentation to show proof of employment for the past 10 years.
Resources: Documents must be provided that show additional resources, which include life insurance policies, saving account statements, and property and vehicle documentation.
Liabilities and debts: Applicants need to prepare loan, mortgage, and credit card statements for the parole agent. Any delinquent account statements must also be presented at the initial meeting.
Organizational memberships: Applicants should present parole agents with memberships cards for volunteer, church, or civic organizations.
Proof of Residence: This could be any documents that show the applicants proof of address for the past ten years.
Educational history: Proof of educational history can be presented to the parole agent with diplomas, degrees, or official transcripts.
Military Affiliation: Applicants who were in the military must also present documents that show their branch of service, entry and discharge dates, and rank.
References: Parole agents will also need to be given contact information for three to five references, which will be contacted by the parole agents to gather information about the applicant. However, reference letters can also be used, but the parole agent may contact the individual to verify the information in the letter.
A pardon can provide an individual with opportunities, such as employment, which are not attainable with a criminal record. For those who want to know more about pardons in Pennsylvania, this website can provide useful information.