Find the answers to the most commonly asked questions about pardons in Washington. If you are trying to find out if you are eligible for a pardon, take our online eligibility test.
The Board considers whether there are extraordinary circumstances to warrant the Governor reviewing the case. However, WA law also does not state exactly what is considered an extraordinary circumstance but examples are:
•Seriousness of offense •Impact on victim •Need for the pardon •Acceptance of responsibility and remorse •Positive changes since the conviction •Criminal history •Compliance with all sentence requirements •Time since the conviction and time period of remaining law-abiding •Benefit to society
We suggest providing your attorney with any information or documentation that show you are a productive member of society, rehabilitated, and that it will benefit society as well as you. This can be shown with letters, transcripts, awards, job applications/proof of employment, volunteer work, etc.
We will be glad to work with you to get a copy of your record and to review what can be done. We charge a researching fee to do it and we apply that to the cost of any service that you hire us to perform.
If you have multiple cases or offenses that you would like pardoned, you can apply for this relief with one petition but will simply have to include the required information in the petition for each of the cases you wish to pardon.
If it is denied, it is usually because (1) the Board or Governor does not believe it is warranted or does not find extraordinary circumstances to grant the pardon, (2) there was an inaccuracy in the information submitted in the petition, (3) violating probation/criminal history, or (4) circumstances of the crime.
A person that is convicted in federal court must file a pardon petition with the President. We do not handle federal cases. However, the WA Clemency and Pardons Board can grant a petition to restore the right to hold public office if it was lost due to a federal conviction or a conviction in a state other than WA. RCW 9.94A.885(2).
You have an attorney to (1) make sure it is done right the first time so it does not get rejected or denied (2) handle objections from the prosecutor (3) send an attorney to hearing to argue the case if need be and (4) write letters to potential employers letting them know that you have filed for a pardon.
Once your petition is filed, it will be reviewed by the Preliminary Review Committee, which is made up of two members. If at least one of the members finds extraordinary circumstances then a hearing will be scheduled for the Board of Petitions for Pardon or Commutation to review the case. Hearings are scheduled quarterly and are open to the public. At the end of the hearing, the Board of Petitions for Pardon or Commutation will decide whether to recommend the Governor grant or deny the petition for pardon. The Governor will then decide whether to follow the Clemency and Pardon Board's recommendation or not take action at all.
If a hearing is granted, the Clemency & Pardons Board allows testimony from you, your attorney, witnesses, the prosecutor, and any other interested party. We recommend you attend the hearing and testify on your behalf; however, we recommend you have attorney that also appears on your behalf.
If the case is chosen for a hearing then it typically takes six months for the Board to schedule the hearing from when they decide to hold a hearing. After the hearing, the petition is sent to the Governor where it can be reviewed for up to two years.
The members of the Board conduct hearings on a quarterly basis to review Petitions. Hearings are usually scheduled in March, June, September and December. Because they only hold hearings a limited number of times per year, the sooner you get your petition filed, the sooner it can make it through the review process and up to the governor for a final decision.
In the unfortunate situation that your pardon is denied, we will evaluate the reason and determine the best way to proceed. However, you must wait three years from the denial to refile unless there are new circumstances that justify you to not have to wait. These are typically medical issues and deportation or removal proceedings.
The conviction will not appear on a criminal history report or WSP background check since it is no longer on your criminal history. RCW 9.94A.030(11)(b). However, there is no legal statute or authority that states you can deny the pardoned conviction on an employment application.
A juvenile conviction that is pardoned does allow a person to state that they were not convicted and the case is treated as if it never occurred. RCW 13.50.050(14)(b).
A pardon is relief from sentence and disabilities that are due to the conviction. Commutation is a reduction of sentence. Reprieve is a delay in the imposition of sentence.
You will receive an order from the Governor’s office stating your conviction is pardoned.
There is no statutory or case law that states whether the pardon will terminate the registration requirement. However, WA Clemency and Pardons Board states your requirement will be terminated since you are no longer considered convicted.
After your case is pardoned, Canada may still be able to see your conviction because of an information sharing arrangement they have entered into with the United States. However, a pardon will show the Canadian government that the matter was resolved and the conviction was pardoned, which will improve the odds of being able to enter Canada and avoid being stuck at the border for lengthy interrogation.
The decision to issue a Sentri pass is within the discretion of Border Patrol, but a pardon will show that you have resolved all matters with the court and the Governor forgave/pardoned the crime.
In Washington, only convicted felons lose their voting rights. Even then, the voting rights of convicted felons are restored upon their completion of their sentence and receipt of a “certificate of discharge” from the Department of Corrections. RCW 29A.08.520
The interplay between criminal convictions, relief from those convictions and immigration law is very complex. To determine if your conviction hurts your immigration status or if a pardon would be beneficial, you should contact an immigration attorney. You may reach our in-house immigration attorney at 714-617-8395.
A pardon could restore your right to own a firearm, depending on the reasons you are currently prohibited; however, the Governor’s Office states she has rarely restored firearm rights even when granting a pardon. We suggest a person file for restoration with the court instead if this is your main concern. Please view our page on Firearm Rights Restoration to learn more about that process.
The two most common reasons for a person to lose their right to own or possess a firearm in WA are:
(1) If you were convicted of an offense prohibiting the use, possession, or ownership of a firearm. A pardon will not restore your right to possess, use, or own a firearm, unless the pardon is based on innocence or rehabilitation. RCW 9.41.040(3).
(2) There is also a lifetime ban under federal law (Lautenberg Amendment to the Violence Against Women Act), which prohibits firearm ownership of those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence. A pardon in WA should lift the federal prohibition.
No. Once your conviction has been pardoned, Washington Revised Code section 9.94A.030(11)(b) states the conviction is removed from your criminal history. However, the court file will not be destroyed.
Upon granting the pardon, the Governor's Office notifies the Washington State Patrol (WSP) that the case has been pardoned, and the WSP must remove the conviction from the criminal history reporting that is available to the public. RCW 9.94A.030(11).
It could take a few weeks to a month for the Washington State Patrol and any local law enforcement agency to update their criminal history.
*The Expedited Record Clearance Update service is not a court service and requires a granted court order. Once we receive a granted court order for your case, we can expedite an update of 650 private background check companies within 14 business days. The service does not involve or influence any court, tribunal, legislative body, or public official in order to complete the update, nor does is expedite traditional court or government record update processes.