In many cases, the process of obtaining a Governor's pardon in Pennsylvania can be a long, drawn-out process. Often, it can take as many as three years to determine the outcome of your pardon request. In 2019, the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons developed an expedited review program for non-violent marijuana-related charges.
The good news is that this expedited system is available for both misdemeanor and felony non-violent marijuana convictions. This expedited review program may guarantee you get your answer faster, but there is no way to guarantee the outcome will be successful. You can put yourself in the best position for a favorable outcome by working with an attorney experienced with Pennsylvania's pardon process.
While not every criminal conviction related to marijuana is eligible for the expedited pardon system, many common offenses are. These include:
- Misdemeanor possession of marijuana
- Possession of marijuana paraphernalia
- Possession with the intent to distribute marijuana
- Felony delivery of marijuana, depending on the amount
- Criminal conspiracy, if the conspiracy involved marijuana-related crime
- Marijuana-related DUI, with proof you had a medical marijuana card at the time of the arrest
- Any other marijuana-related offense the Board of Pardons finds to be appropriate
The last entry in this list is an important catch-all that makes the expedited pardon process for any marijuana-related crime at least feasible.
There are some offenses that are always prohibited from the expedited pardon review process. These cases do not apply to the catch-all option discussed above. These prohibitions include:
- A person not yet convicted of a marijuana-based crime
- Anyone enrolled in Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD)
- Anyone with a conviction for a violent offense
- Any DUI outside of the exception discussed above
Process of Applying for an Expedited Pardon
The process for obtaining an expedited pardon is essentially the same as any other pardon. In addition to the pardon request, you must include a copy of the criminal complaint other required records. The process also requires a statement on why the crime in question occurred. The amount of time that has passed since the conviction will not be a major factor in the decision from the Board of Pardons.
The Board is made up of five members; to receive a recommendation of a pardon you must receive at least three votes in favor. While a favorable vote is important, the Governor will have the ultimate say in whether or not to pardon you of a marijuana-related offense.
The Importance of Legal Counsel
The process of obtaining a pardon even in an expedited situation is never simple. The process is complex, and a minor clerical error could be costly. Given the impact even minor convictions could have on your life, it is vital that you seek legal counsel experienced in taking on pardons in Pennsylvania.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has a track record of success with helping clients clear their criminal records. He understands the procedural requirements and can help you maximize your chance of a favorable outcome. To learn more, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today at 215-535-5353.