How do I get this conviction off my record? Pardons

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.


  1. Application must be purchased online or via mail (cost is $8.00)
  2. Application must be completed in full and all necessary documents collected
    1. All records from the MDJ or the Court of Common Pleas pertaining to the charge(s) for which applicant is seeking clemency
    2. Proof of payment of all fines and costs
    3. A full drivers history from PennDOT (cost is $10.00)
    4. A complete background check called an Access and Review from Pennsylvania State Police (cost is $10.00)
    5. A 2×2 passport style color photo of the applicant
  3. When application is completed and all documents collected, application is filed with the Board of Pardons ($25.00 filing fee)
  4. The Board of Pardons reviews the application
    1. Investigates the facts surrounding the crime(s)
    2. A home meeting will be conducted where the Board will do a thorough interview of the applicant
  5. 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
  6. 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)
  7. If a hearing is granted, all interested parties are notified of time and place
  8. Hearing
    1. Applicant presents first as to why they should be granted clemency
    2. If they have any supportive speakers, they present next
    3. The victims family is also invited to present their position
    4. Any speakers who wish to speak in opposition to the application present last
  9. 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.
  10. The governor, at his discretion, approves or denies any pardon applications that are forwarded to him.
    1. If application is granted, the charges are expunged and the record is clear – as if the conviction never occurred.
    2. If denied, applicant can request reconsideration only if circumstances have changed since the application was filed, or other compelling reasons.
    3. 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.


Justin McShane

PA DUI attorney Justin J. McShane is the President/CEO of The McShane Firm, LLC - Pennsylvania's top criminal law and DUI law firm. He is the highest rated DUI attorney in PA as rated by Justin McShane is a double Board certified attorney. He is the first and so far the only Pennsylvania attorney to achieve American Bar Association recognized board certification in DUI defense from the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. He is also a Board Certified Criminal Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Approved Agency.

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