Webster’s Dictionary defines a pardon as the “release from the legal penalties of an offense.” State offenses may be pardoned by the governor, while those convicted of a federal crime or military court martial must seek a presidential pardon. Generally, an expungement or sealing of a record through the county courthouse will be sought first, but due to eligibility constraints a pardon is often the only option for more serious convictions. In fact in some states, the expungement of any criminal records is not even an option.
For those with a serious criminal offense on their record, obtaining a pardon is an integral part of restoring one’s rights and moving forward in life. In many cases a pardon will lift licensing restrictions that could bar access to a wide variety of occupations such as teaching, nursing or real-estate. The regaining of firearm rights in the event one is attempting to gain employment as a Security Guard, may require more than just receiving a pardon. The restoration of firearm rights requirements and eligibility vary significantly from state to state. Forgiveness of your charges is often necessary to regain your voting privileges, as well as your ability to run for public office. A pardon can restore these rights so you may pursue options previously unavailable.
The various factors determining eligibility differ widely from state to state and with federal or military convictions. For example, California requires a wait of ten years after the completion of your sentence, including parole, before you are eligible to apply. That is unless you obtain a Certificate of Rehabilitation, in which you would be viewed as rehabilitated by the state and automatically considered for a pardon. However, anyone convicted of two or more felonies must be recommended to the Governor by the California Supreme Court before being accepted for a decision.
In Maryland if you are convicted for a crime of violence, the waiting period is twenty years; but in Illinois you can apply right after your conviction. There are many more details to the eligibility, but these examples serve to demonstrate how the eligibility can vary dependent upon the state.
This free check will help you determine your expungement, sealing, or pardon eligibility. Simply having the knowledge that you have been forgiven of your criminal past, will gain back not only your confidence; but may also earn back lost rights which can make all the difference in future endeavors.