Many people have DUI’s or other criminal offenses which they want off their record. There are a number of ways to go about this process. Today we examine Pardons.
Who can apply?
Any person with a criminal conviction can seek a pardon.
- Application must be purchased online or via mail (cost is $8.00)
- Application must be completed in full and all necessary documents collected
- All records from the MDJ or the Court of Common Pleas pertaining to the charge(s) for which applicant is seeking clemency
- Proof of payment of all fines and costs
- A full drivers history from PennDOT (cost is $10.00)
- A complete background check called an Access and Review from Pennsylvania State Police (cost is $10.00)
- A 2×2 passport style color photo of the applicant
- When application is completed and all documents collected, application is filed with the Board of Pardons ($25.00 filing fee)
- The Board of Pardons reviews the application
- Investigates the facts surrounding the crime(s)
- A home meeting will be conducted where the Board will do a thorough interview of the applicant
- The District Attorney, President Judge, and Magisterial District Justice in the county where the crime occurred are given an opportunity to provide an opinion on the merits of the application
- After all reports are received, the board of pardons will determine if a hearing will be granted. A hearing will be granted if 2 out of the 5 board members approve of a hearing. (If the crime is a crime of violence and the person is still incarcerated or the applicant is serving a life sentence, 3 members must approve to grant a hearing)
- If a hearing is granted, all interested parties are notified of time and place
- Applicant presents first as to why they should be granted clemency
- If they have any supportive speakers, they present next
- The victims family is also invited to present their position
- Any speakers who wish to speak in opposition to the application present last
- After the hearing, the board votes. If a majority of the board votes in favor of the application, the application is sent to the governor with a favorable recommendation. If no majority vote, the application is denied and not sent to the governor.
- The governor, at his discretion, approves or denies any pardon applications that are forwarded to him.
- If application is granted, the charges are expunged and the record is clear – as if the conviction never occurred.
- If denied, applicant can request reconsideration only if circumstances have changed since the application was filed, or other compelling reasons.
- A renewed application can be filed only after at least 12 months from a final adverse decision
The process can take anywhere from 4-6 years or longer depending on how many applications the board is addressing at any given time. It takes anywhere from 6 months to a year to prepare the application – primarily because it takes 6-9 months to get an access and review from the state police.
Chance of success
Per the board of pardons website, in 2015, approximately 30% of pardon applicants were granted hearings and 21% of the total applications were granted clemency
In 2016, approximately 70% of pardon applicants were granted a hearing and only 15% of the total applicants were granted clemency.