Expungement vs. Pardon

When it comes to clearing a criminal record, expungement is only one option. Pardons, whether issued by a state board, governor or president, achieve a similar result to expungement.

However, pardons are often more difficult to receive, and may not always produce the same effect.

If you are currently facing criminal charges, the first chance you have to clear your name may be right now. Discuss your options with a criminal defense attorney. Simply fill out the free evaluation form on this page or call 877-445-1059 to arrange a no-obligation consultation today.

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Expungement and Pardon Qualifications

In most states, pardons are only available for felony offenders. Misdemeanors may be petitioned for pardon, but are usually not serious enough for consideration.

States typically require a 10-year waiting period before pardons will be considered, whereas most require at most five years before expungement. Exceptions are made for convictions based on error.

Additionally, many states require a certificate of rehabilitation to accompany all pardon requests. This certificate shows that the petitioner has reformed and is deserving of a clean start.

Effects of a Pardon

When granted, a pardon does not seal your public record. Instead, it becomes a part of your record, in addition to your criminal history. All the details of your arrest, conviction and sentence may be visible to future employers, landlords, or anyone else with access to your criminal record.

Unlike an expungement, a pardon may not allow you to say you have never been convicted of a crime. Instead, you may need to explain that you were convicted and pardoned.

One benefit of a pardon is it may restore your gun rights and end sex offender registration requirements, whereas an expungement typically does not.

Obtaining a Pardon

Pardons are issued far less often than expungements. This may be because only a governor or pardons board can issue a pardon in each state, instead of the dozens or hundreds of judges who can grant an expungement.

Pardons are generally difficult to obtain, and require more proof of rehabilitation. Victims of violent offenders are typically given the opportunity to testify against a pardon, similar to expungement hearings.

Facing Criminal Charges? Ask a Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing criminal charges, you may think that pleading guilty and eventually seeking a pardon or expungement is your best option. However, in many cases, there may be another option—fighting your charges and arguing for your rights.

Connect with an attorney in your area today to learn about your rights and your options to protect them. Simply fill out our free evaluation form or call 877-445-1059 to arrange a no-obligation consultation.

The above summary is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. Laws may have changed since our last update. For the latest information on these topics, speak to a criminal defense attorney in your area.