A pardon is an act of forgiveness carried out by the Governor of Pennsylvania that is necessary, if no other exceptions exist, to get prior criminal charges expunged from a person's criminal record. The process of obtaining a pardon has a reputation of being long and tedious that it definitely lives up to. In order to navigate these processes without any setbacks or mishaps, your best option is to seek the guidance of an attorney.
Below is an overview of the pardoning process in the state of Pennsylvania:
The first step of the pardoning process is obtaining and filling out an application. A legal professional typically fulfills this duty for you by requesting an application from the Board of Pardons (BOP) on your behalf. Once this application is received, your attorney will work with you to ensure the application is thoroughly and correctly filled out. Upon its completion, it will be submitted to the BOP for review.
After the board receives your application, the Pennsylvania Board of Probation will conduct an investigation. Throughout the duration of this investigation, investigators will reassess the facts surrounding the crime(s) you committed and evaluate the circumstances of your case. As a part of the investigation, you will be interviewed at your residence by a state parole agent to determine if you have become a contributing member of society since you committed the crime in which you wish to pardon. Other people in your household, whether that be your family or a roommate, will be asked about your conduct and respectability. Both you and these members of your family should be prepared to answer these questions, providing examples and being completely cooperative with the agent.
Once the investigation has concluded, your investigation report will be sent to the BOP for what is known as a “merit review” of the findings. The BOP is comprised of five members, the Lt. Governor, the Attorney General, a victim representative, a psychologist and a corrections expert. Typically, they examine specific circumstances of your case, such as the amount of time that has passed since you committed the crime, your presumed need for a clemency, and the evidence of positive changes made in your life. At least two of these five board members must approve of your application in order to be advanced to the next step, which is scheduling and attending a hearing.
If you reach this stage, you will be granted the opportunity to speak for yourself to the BOP. You may bring a legal representative along to render a few words also. During this hearing, you may be asked questions to clarify any information the board may need to decide whether or not to recommend your application to the Governor. If your application is placed in the hands of the Governor for review, he will decide whether or not you will receive a pardon.
If the Governor chooses to reject your application, you will not be able to appeal this decision, but you are allowed to reapply. However, you must wait one year after a denial, and two years from subsequent denials to do so. On the other hand, if the Governor decides to grant you a pardon, all legal and criminal records associated with said crime(s) will be eradicated.
Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are contemplating applying for a pardon, you should consult with an attorney who is well-versed in the complexities of the pardoning process. Skilled attorney Joseph D. Lento is here to help maximize the chances of obtaining a pardon. Contact him today.