Regardless of its degree, a criminal conviction can make things incredibly difficult for you to gain employment, to further your education, enter the military, to find a place to live, or even get a financial loan. Your criminal history will follow you, showing up on background checks and dragging your past into your future. If you've been convicted of a crime, clearing your record is probably very high on your list of things to do. Fortunately for you, Berks County provides several ways to do so after serving your time and paying your dues back to society.
One of your options for moving on after a conviction is getting it pardoned. It's imperative you know the basics of what it means to be pardoned and the process before pursuing this alternative to determine if its the right course of action for you. If you have any further questions about your specific circumstances contact the Lento Law Firm today.
What is a Pardon?
A pardon is an act of clemency or forgiveness that can only be granted by the Governor. It essentially restores all the privileges and rights once forfeited by you due to a criminal conviction. If a pardon is granted, a conviction is erased as if it never happened, preventing you from being punished further for having a record of the offense.
With that being said, It's important to note that a pardon is very different from an expungement. A pardon doesn't erase a conviction completely as an expungement does, nor does it seal your record. It simply sheds light on the fact that you have turned your life around and have chosen to start anew. In the event a background check is run following a pardon, the conviction will still show up. However, the employer or whoever is conducting the check will also see that the Governor has pardoned you.
The Pardoning Process
Unlike the expungement process, there are no eligibility requirements for applying for a pardon. Each application is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The only way you can increase your chances of getting your pardon granted is by allowing an experienced Berks County attorney guide you throughout the process.
An attorney will request a pardon application on your behalf to submit to the Board of Pardons. The application includes elements such as your educational history, your employment history, and a background check. Aside from the logistics, an effective application includes the following elements:
- An admission of your guilt or remorse
- Reasons why you need a pardon
- Why you deserve a pardon
After the Board receives your application, an investigation ran by the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole will be conducted. This investigation will most likely include an interview with you.
Once agents have completed the investigation, they will prepare a report containing their findings to the Board. The Board will then review this report at what is known as a “merit review.” If at least two of five Board members are convinced to approve your application, you'll be scheduled to attend a hearing.
At a hearing, you'll be given an opportunity to tell your story to the Board. You should be prepared for questions. After all is said and done, the Board will vote on whether or not to recommend your application to the Governor for review.
If your application gets all the way to the Governor and he grants your pardon, the expungement process will begin.
Berks County Pardon Attorney
Because there are so many pardon applications submitted, the process is pretty lengthy. If you have any questions regarding your options concerning pardons or representation, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 215-535-5353.