Does a Pardon Clear Your Record?

Facing the repercussions of past mistakes can be a challenging ordeal. The stigma attached to a criminal record often leads to difficulties securing employment, finding housing, or even rebuilding one's life after serving time. The prospect of a pardon, therefore, can represent a beacon of hope, offering individuals a chance to clear their record and start anew.

In Pennsylvania, the process of obtaining a pardon is known as "clemency." This article will explore how clemency works in the state and whether a pardon truly clears one's record.

Clemency in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, clemency is a legal process overseen by the Board of Pardons (BOP) and the Governor of the state. An individual seeking clemency must file an application with the BOP, who will conduct an investigation, host a public hearing, and recommend to the Governor. The Governor, however, has the final say on whether or not to grant the pardon.

Receiving a pardon in Pennsylvania is not guaranteed and depends on a myriad of factors. The decision of the Board and the Governor is discretionary and is based on the individual's personal history, the severity of the crime, the time elapsed since the crime, and the applicant's conduct after the crime. However, if granted, a pardon has the power to erase one's criminal history, allowing the individual to proceed in life without the burden of a criminal record.

What Types of Crimes Can be Pardoned?

Almost all types of offenses, including misdemeanors and felonies, are eligible for clemency in Pennsylvania. However, the nature and severity of the crime significantly affect the chances of obtaining a pardon. For instance, individuals convicted of non-violent offenses or minor drug charges generally have a higher likelihood of receiving a pardon compared to those convicted of violent crimes or sexual offenses.

It's important to note, however, that each case is evaluated on its own merits. The BOP and the Governor consider various factors, such as the individual's behavior after the crime, their contribution to society, and their genuine remorse, before making a decision. Therefore, while the type of crime plays a significant role, it does not solely determine the outcome of a pardon application.

Does a Pardon Erase All the Convictions from Your Record?

In Pennsylvania, a pardon has the potential to expunge all convictions from your record, essentially clearing it. This means that, once pardoned, the individual is no longer required to disclose their criminal history on job applications or in any other situations where such information might be requested. It's as though the conviction never occurred. However, this does not automatically happen when a pardon is granted. The pardoned individual must petition the court for an expungement to remove the pardoned offenses from their criminal record.

However, it's important to understand that pardons and subsequent expungements do not erase the crime from public knowledge or media reports. While the legal record of the crime may be cleared, news reports or other public documents that reported on the crime at the time of its occurrence will still exist. Moreover, certain types of criminal records, such as sex offender registries, may not be completely wiped clean even after a pardon. Therefore, while a pardon can certainly help in moving forward from a past mistake, it does not completely erase all traces or consequences of the crime.

At Scaringi Law, we understand the complexities of clemency applications and the profound impact a pardon can have on your life. Our team of experienced attorneys is well-versed in Pennsylvania's clemency laws and can provide comprehensive guidance through each step of the legal process. From filing the initial application to presenting your case at the public hearing and beyond, we're committed to advocating for your best interests.

Reach out to us online or call us at (717) 775-7195 to schedule a consultation.


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