There are consequences imposed outside of the criminal justice system that have the ability to impact criminal offenders for the rest of their lives. These are known as "collateral consequences." A criminal conviction, regardless of its severity, will carry collateral consequences that can make integrating into society post-conviction much more difficult. Merely having a criminal record can make it hard for you to gain employment, to further your education, enter the military, gain residency, or even get a financial loan.
Your criminal history will haunt you, showing up on background checks and dragging your past into your present. If you've been convicted of a crime, clearing your record is probably a priority for you. Fortunately, Lehigh County provides several ways to do so after serving your time and paying your dues back to society.
One of several ways to move 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 rights and privileges once lost due to a criminal conviction. If a pardon is granted, a conviction is erased as if it never happened, preventing you from being penalized for having a record of the offense.
It's important to note that a pardon is not to be confused with an expungement. A pardon doesn't erase a conviction completely as an expungement does, nor does it seal a record. It simply sheds light on the fact that you have turned your life around and have chosen to start over. 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. You can increase your chances of getting your pardon granted by letting an experienced Lehigh County attorney help 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 for committing the crime
- The reasons why you need a pardon (employment issues, can't find a place to live, in dire need of a loan etc.)
- Why you deserve one (reformed, haven't been arrested lately etc.)
After the Board receives your application, an investigation ran by the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole will ensue. 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.
Lehigh County Pardon Attorney
Because of the large quantities of pardon applications, 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.