PA GOVERNOR’S PARDON LAWYERS
PA GOVERNOR’S PARDON LAWYERS
Thank you for visiting Lampman Law. If you think that a conviction record is keeping you from gaining your desired employment of from reaching your full potential, please call Lampman Law at 570-371-3737 to personally discuss your eligibility for pardon with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Pathway to Pardons Program & Confusion
When the General Assembly passed the law permitting limited access orders in 2015-16, it opened dialogue about criminal record relief in general and specifically about expanding the use of pardons. Specifically, this discussion concerned helping people who committed crimes to support their drug habit but have since achieved sobriety and maintain long-term recovery. The recent “Pathways to Pardons” initiative suggests that reformed drug addicted offenders may have an expedited track to clemency. In addition to showing that the offense was committed to support their drug habit, the applicant must show evidence that they have approximately five years in recovery with no criminal related activity.
However, after closely examining the Pathway to Pardons Program, it is unclear what the program entails or if they’re really is a specific new policy or program concerning clemency. It seems that the Pathway to Pardons “program” is an outreach movement ran by politicians to educate the public about record relief (expungements, limited access orders, and traditional applications for clemency) for reformed drug offenders. In reviewing the politician’s presentations and written materials for their Pathway to Pardons Programs it is unclear if they know what they are talking about. It is also unclear if there is a new policy within the Board of Pardons to recommend more people for pardon.
It is important to note that the pardon process is a prolonged. Moreover, based on Pennsylvania’s tradition of sparingly granting pardons, the statistics of pardons granted (in 2016, Governor Wolf granted a total of seventy-eight (78) pardons), public policy concerns, and experience, it is difficult for this lawyer to imagine the flood gates on granted pardons opening. Hopefully, time will prove this lawyer wrong because there seems to be widespread belief in the recovery and criminal justice reform community that drug motivated crime will be pardoned after a couple years of sobriety. In short, when the 2017 and 2018 statistics concerning granted pardons are released, we may have a better idea if this is a real policy shift or just political talk.
Pennsylvania Pardon Lawyers
As with most legal matters, you do not need a lawyer to file an application for clemency. The cost of the application is $8.00 and the filing fee is $25.00 plus the cost of postage.
Nevertheless, Lampman Law is extremely selective in accepting cases to pursue clemency. In sum, we typically pass on accepting these cases because we do not believe the case is ripe for a pardon to be granted. We will not accept these cases unless we are confident it is ready for and worthy of relief. While we believe in second chances and in criminal justice reform, we are also mindful of our duties to clients, our mission to have happy clients, and the perils of false hope.
Governor’s Pardons in Pennsylvania
For any conviction to a felony, misdemeanor of the first-degree, or any misdemeanor offense ineligible for limited access, to become eligible for criminal record relief, the offender must pursue clemency via a Governor’s Pardon. Thus, any criminal conviction that is not otherwise eligible for record relief may seek clemency. If a pardon (clemency) is granted, the conviction then becomes expungement eligible. The petitioner must then file a petition for expungement to clear their criminal record.
Eligibility to Apply for Clemency or to be Pardoned
While applications for clemency are closely reviewed on a case-by-case basis, there are no minimum eligibility requirements. This means that a clemency application may be filed at any time and that it will be reviewed. Nevertheless, an applicant should allow significant time to pass from the time of conviction and completion of supervision to achieve, maintain, and show rehabilitation.
PA’s Pardon Application & Review Process
Pardons are commenced by filing an application for clemency. The application then must pass two levels of review. The application must first be recommended for pardon by the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons. The Board of Pardons is an independent entity with the authority recommend pardons, reprieves, commutations of sentence, and executive clemency for the Governor’s review. The members of the Board are the Lieutenant Governor, the Attorney General, a corrections expert, a psychiatrist, and a victim representative.
Here it is important to note that if an application is not “approved” by the Board of Pardons, the Governor may not grant clemency. In other words, the Governor of Pennsylvania may only grant clemency upon the recommendation of the Board of Pardons. The Governor, however, is also independent in this process. This means that the Governor is not bound to accept the recommendation of the Board of Pardons.
Clemency Application Timeline
In general, once an application for clemency is filed, it is takes about three (3) years for the Board of Pardons to review it and to decide if a hearing will be granted. When a hearing is granted, it is typically heard at the next scheduled session. If the Board of Pardons recommends clemency, the Governor will review it; however, there is no time limit for the Governor to act on the case.
Factors the Board of Pardons Considers
There is no law or guideline that set factors that the Board of Pardons or Governor must follow when reviewing clemency applications. The Board of Pardons has published a list of factors they often consider. However, this is not simply a checklist. Thus, cases that may meet these considerations may not be recommended for clemency or pardoned.
Time. How much time has passed since the offense, conviction, and the completion of sentence all matter. Likewise, how long an offender has remained crime free is extremely important.
While not specifically noted in the Board of Pardons published list of factors, it seems obvious that an offender seeking clemency should also consider the time requirements, rules, and excluded offenses set in our expungement and limited access statutes. Of course, when an offense includes time references, they should also be contemplated. For example, DUIs have a 10-year lookback rule that increased the penalty for subsequent offenses committed within that timeframe. It seems unlikely that the Board of Pardons would overlook that rule to recommend clemency.
Fulfillment of Sentence. All terms of incarceration and supervision should be completed. Further, all restitution, fines, and court costs should be paid in full.
Evidence of Full Rehabilitation. Applicants should be able to demonstrate positive change in their life and their good work in their community since the committing the offense.
Need for Clemency. Applicant should explain how their record is specifically harming them and how clemency would offer relief. “Except in extraordinary circumstances, the Board does not view a pardon as an appropriate means of restoring any disability that has been imposed pursuant to a state law, e.g., suspension of driver's license, revocation of professional or business licensure, etc. Rather, the Board generally defers to the General Assembly and the means of restoration provided for in the law in question.”
Victim Impact. The Board of Pardons is required to notify victims (or their families) when an application of clemency has been filed. Victims must be given an opportunity to appear at hearings or to make a confidential submission in writing. Here, it is essential for applicants to remember that they must not initiate (or move others to) contact with victims or their families.
Evidence of Remorse. Applicants should display and explain remorse for their crime(s).
PA Governor’s Pardons History & Statistics
Historically, pardons have been granted sparingly. The following chart illustrates the difficulty of getting a conviction pardoned in Pennsylvania.
Call Now to Speak with an Experienced Pennsylvania Lawyer
Thanks again for visiting Lampman Law. Please call us at 570-371-3737 if you would like to discuss pursuing a pardon. The call is free of charge and without pressure. We hope to hear from you today.