Pennsylvania state residents who wish to obtain a pardon must complete a number of steps, most effectively with the help of an attorney, before they are granted one.
The first step is submitting an application to the Board of Pardons for review. Once this application is received by the board, an investigation centered around your role in society since the commission of the crime you want pardoned will be conducted. The main goal of the investigation is to determine whether you have become a responsible, contributing member of society. As a part of the investigation, you, along with the members of your household will be interviewed about your life post-conviction. The information these investigators collect during the investigation is comprised and sent to the board for review. The board's job is to examine these findings and decide if you will move to the next step, a hearing that will determine if your application will be sent to the Governor for a pardon.
The board is made up of five members: the Lt. Governor, the Attorney General, a psychologist, a victim representative and a corrections expert. The decision to pass your application to the next step is based on a number of factors examined during what's known as a “merit review.” And two members of this panel must approve of your application for it to get to advance. The board will reassess the circumstances of your case based on the following factors:
- Time passed since the commission of the crime: the amount of time that has passed since an individual has committed a criminal act can be very telling. It is presumed that a person has been successfully rectified and rehabilitated when they have not broken any laws or had run-ins with law enforcement for a long period of time. The longer you have stayed out of trouble, the higher the likelihood of your application being passed to the next step.
- The completion of your sentence: the board examines if you fulfilled all of the requirements the court imposed upon you in relation to your sentence.
- The impact of a potential pardon on a victim: the board will also consider how the pardoning of your crime will affect a victim in your case (if any). If there is a victim or victims in your case they will be notified of the pardon application and may partake in this process as a victim representative. Their opinion and point of view will be considered by the board.
- The reason for the request of a pardon: the board will determine if your reason for wanting a pardon is acceptable.
- Improvements and positive changes in your life: the board will evaluate if you've lived your life in a way that proves you've truly changed for the better. Information that was collected from the interview, such as community service, advancements you've made in your career, your relationships with those around you, and other aspects of your life will be considered.
It's important to note that these are general factors. In some cases, these factors may be accounted and others cases may warrant other considerations. This is a very individualized process.
Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney
If you wish to obtain a pardon, your first move should be consulting with an attorney. A legal professional will be able to help you navigate through Pennsylvania's complex pardoning process. Contact knowledgeable attorney Joseph D. Lento today for help with the Pennsylvania pardon process.