If you are trying to obtain a Pennsylvania pardon, you have come to the right place. Below you will find answers to the most commonly asked questions about pardons. If you are trying to determine if you are eligible for a pardon, the easiest way to do that is to take our free online eligibility test. You can learn more about our Pennsylvania pardon service here.
Simply click on a question to see its answer:
We will be glad to work with you to get a copy of your criminal records (which are required by the Board of Pardons) and to review what can be done in terms of seeking a pardon and/or to determine if you are eligible for expungement. We charge a researching fee and we apply that to the cost of any service that you hire us to perform.
Knowing what the determining factor was for a denial by either the Board or Governor may be impossible.
The Board has released a list of factors that have been used in the past by the Board in evaluating pardon applications. The factors they have used to make their decisions include but are not limited to: (1) the seriousness and number of the crime(s) committed, (2) the length of time that has elapsed since the commission of the crime, (3) the presence of a specific need for a pardon, such as a particular job, (4) completion of all court requirements, including payment of all fines, and (5) the impact of your crime on the victims of the offense.
A person can apply for a pardon through the President for a federal conviction. We do not handle federal cases.
No. The only way to obtain an application is directly from the Board of Pardons for a small fee. We will obtain the application for you and the cost is included in our fee.
The application will include: a completed application form, a filing fee, a passport style photo, a copy of your criminal record, and any supplemental documents such as a personal statement or letters of recommendation.
After filing the application, agents from the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole will conduct an investigation into your case. This investigation includes investigating the facts of your case as well as your current situation. This could involve an interview with you at your home. After the investigation is complete, the Board will vote on whether to grant a hearing.
If a hearing is granted, you will be provided 15 minutes (for non-capital cases) to make a presentation in support of your application. Any parties objecting will also receive 15 minutes for their presentation. You must get a majority of the Board to vote in favor of granting the pardon. If the Board votes in your favor, the pardon is then sent to the Governor for approval.
Yes, if you are granted a hearing you will be required to attend to make a presentation, with our assistance, in support of your application. The hearing will be held in the Supreme Court Courtroom in Harrisburg, PA.
Currently, the time period from filing an application with the Board of Pardons to the time they merit review the application to determine if a hearing will be granted is up to 2 ½ - 3 years. If you are granted a hearing, your case will be reviewed at the next scheduled session. If after the hearing, the Board recommends granting you a pardon, your petition will be passed on to the Governor. There is no time limit in which the Governor must act on your case.
The Board of Pardons work on a first come, first serve basis. The Secretary is unable to expedite the application of any particular applicant to the Board. Therefore, the sooner you begin the application process the sooner the Board will make a decision on your case. If helpful, we will gladly write your employer or potential employer a letter letting them know we have filed an application and are in the process of seeking a pardon.
You will be legally forgiven for your crime. The Board notifies all interested parties after they receive notice of the Governor’s decision. State agencies may no longer consider your conviction for any reason. That conviction also becomes eligible for judicial expungement. After this is granted, the general public will no longer have access to the records.
If the case is denied, we evaluate the reason for the denial and determine the best way to proceed. We can submit a request for reconsideration if there has been a change in circumstances since the filing of the application or for other compelling reasons. If not, the only option is to refile after 12 months has passed from the final adverse decision.
A pardon relieves any legal disability resulting from a conviction. These disabilities include, but are not limited to: The right to vote (only incarcerated felons suffer this disability in Pennsylvania), the right to be a juror, the right to hold a public office, the right to bear arms, the opportunity to serve in the military, the right to obtain/carry a firearm, the right to travel internationally
No, a pardon does not remove, expunge, or clear the conviction from your criminal record, but it does make you eligible to have your record expunged.
The only way to remove the pardoned conviction is to file a petition for expungement in the court where the conviction occurred.
Yes. If you are pardoned for the crime that required you to register as a sex offender, your obligation to register terminates when you receive the pardon.
In Pennsylvania, a person can register to vote the moment he is released from incarceration. You lose your right to serve on a jury if you have ever been convicted of a crime punishable by more than one year prison. This right is restored through a governor’s pardon. You lose your right to hold public office (elected/appointed office) if you’ve been convicted of embezzlement of public money, bribery, perjury or "other infamous crime" (any felony basically), this, too, is restored through a governor’s pardon.
Criminal violations may have severe consequences for immigrants, even if the crime is expunged/vacated/sealed. Even minor offenses such as petty theft can make someone deportable or inadmissible, while more serious offenses such as burglary may not have the same consequences. Since each case is unique, getting a case-by-case analysis tailored to your specific facts is imperative. To find out if your criminal conviction will impact your immigration case, contacting a qualified immigration attorney is vital. Our in-house immigration attorney is available to answer questions at 714-617-8395.
A pardon is the first step to restoring your firearm rights in Pennsylvania. Once you receive a pardon, you must apply to the Court of Common Pleas to have a judge order your firearm rights restored (18 Pa. C.S.A. §6105). As long as the pardon does not expressly state that your firearm rights remain restricted, the court will grant the restoration after your pardon is granted.
In Pennsylvania, you may serve on a jury if you: 1) are able to read, speak, and write the English language, 2) have not been convicted of a crime that is punishable by imprisonment for more than one year unless you have been pardoned (42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 4502(a)(3)), 3) are physically and mentally able to perform the functions of a juror, 4) are a United States citizen at the time that you are summoned, 5) are a resident of the county by which you are summoned and are at least eighteen years of age.
No. After you receive a pardon, you can say that you were never convicted of that crime. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Sutley, 378 A.2d 780 (Pa. 1977) held that a pardon is defined as "the exercise of the sovereign's prerogative of mercy. It completely frees the offender from the control of the state. It not only exempts him from further punishment but relieves him from all the legal disabilities resulting from his conviction It blots out the very existence of his guilt, so that, in the eye of the law, he is thereafter as innocent as if he had never committed the offense."
It is recommended, though, that such a denial be explained as based on the existence of a pardon. Also, once a conviction has been pardoned, the case is eligible to be judicially expunged. After it is expunged from your record, you can legally deny it as though the offense never happened.
Pennsylvania law specifically prohibits state agencies from considering any conviction that has been pardoned in deciding whether to issue a license, certificate, or registration.
A pardoned conviction will show up on background checks; however, a pardoned conviction is eligible to be expunged. Once expunged, all public agencies (such as the court, the prosecuting office, and the police agency or agencies involved) will seal your records. So that neither the arrest or conviction record will appear on your background check.