If I was convicted of a felony and now cannot find a good job, how do I apply for a pardon?

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If I was convicted of a felony and now cannot find a good job, how do I apply for a pardon?

I have not been in any trouble before or after this conviction (1998). I live a law abiding life. I am a wife, mother and grandmother and take care of my family. I have had a full-time job for the past 11 years. I had a drug problem at the time of the conviction but have not used drugs in 13 years.

Asked on July 4, 2011 under Criminal Law, Maryland

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

In MD, you will need to apply to the Parole Commission, which reviews pardon applications and makes recommendations to the Governor; he/she then makes the final determination as to whether or not the pardon should be granted. You should be aware however that since your crime was a felony, you must have been crime-free for at least 10 years from the date that your sentence was completed; if your felony offense was a crime of violence or a controlled substance crime, you must have been crime-free for at least 20 years since you completed your sentence. Also, you can only get a pardon for a MD state conviction, not for convictions in other states or federal convictions.

Your chance of getting a pardon largely depends on your individual situation. So you need to give details of your case and your life circumstances to the Commission, plus letters of recommendation from family, friends, church members and employers. After it receives your completed application, the Commission will conduct a comprehensive investigation. 

You need to be aware however that if the Governor grants you a pardon, your criminal history record will not automatically be "expunged" (i.e. erased). Your pardoned conviction will continue to be part of your criminal history record. However your record will reflect that you have been granted a pardon. This means that you must still answer “yes” on any application that asks whether you have been convicted of a crime (although you can add that you have received a pardon for that conviction). Yet is it important to know that if you have only been convicted of 1 criminal act, and it was not a crime of violence and you have received a full unconditional pardon for that conviction, then you are eligible to have the records of the offense expunged 10 years after your pardon. Once a conviction has been expunged, it cannot be accessed by the public, including employers. In fact once a conviction has been expunged you can deny that you have ever been convicted.

All in all you appear to be a strong candidate but I would highly recommend having an attorney help you with all of this. Good luck.


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