How to Apply for a Governor's Pardon

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A lapse in judgment or an adolescent indiscretion can create a criminal for life. Outstanding achievements and stellar performances for good causes may lead to a governor's pardon. Pardons wipe away crimes, reinstating persons civil rights, as if the crimes had never happened. States have similar procedures but check your state for differences.

Obtain a copy of your criminal record from the state's crime information center. The crime information center will have a record of all your arrests and any convictions. Check for inaccuracies.

Check for other pending charges. You're not a candidate for a pardon if you're waiting for a hearing on a crime.

Ask for a form at each agency that you were arrested, including sheriffs, police departments, state bureau of investigations, etc. The forms are free, but you may have a cost associated with filing. Present required identification.

Complete all the forms and then make copies of completed forms.

Mail the forms to the designated office indicated for your particular state. The police or sheriff's office can direct you. The Pardon Advisory Board will send you a return letter in the mail advising you of the day and time to appear before the board.

Defend your case. The Pardon Advisory Board will ask you many questions, giving you a chance to speak on your behalf and allowing you to present reasons why you request a pardon. The Pardon Advisory Board takes a vote and passes on their recommendation to the governor. The governor reviews the board's recommendation, and then notifies the applicant by mail of the decision. It's not customary for the governor to meet with applicants.


  • Be humble when meeting with the board. An opportunity to meet the Pardon Advisory Board is a privilege.