Even after you have completed your sentence, if you have a felony on your record, it can still cause problems for you. You will have difficulty renting an apartment, finding a job or even getting a higher education. You might end up paying higher interest rates on credit cards or higher insurance premiums. The good news, many states/countries have procedures put in place to allow you to move forward with your life.
What is a Pardon?
A pardon is basically similar to the Monopoly game’s ‘get out of jail free’ card in that it forgives you of the crime you committed as well as the penalty applied to you. It is a way of getting that crime off yoru record. In many cases, pardons are applied for after an appeal has been denied, or a conviction failed to overturn and there are not any other avenues the person can turn to.
How to Obtain a Pardon
Sealing your Record
- Know the difference between an expunged record and a sealed record. A sealed criminal record still exists, but is hidden from the general public. In some cases, a sealed record can be unsealed while an expunged record is erased permanently.
- Ensure you allow the right amount of time to elapse since you were convicted. It is required that you wait several years after completing your sentence before trying to have your record sealed. Also, during this timeframe, avoid any further issues with the law.
- Be sure to complete all forms. If in Canada, you can check pardonapplications.ca for help. You can obtain forms through your court system or probation office. The correct forms might also be found through legal aid offices. You might have other types of documents that you will need to file with your form like your final order of conviction or a copy of your criminal record.
- Mail or file the forms. You will be able to see right on the form who you should send them to for review. In some states, a judge reviews a petition for seal records. In others, you are able to mail them in to the probation office. If filing forms with a clerk of court, there will most likely be filing fees associated with it.
- If required, attend your hearing. In many states, a hearing is required before a parole board or judge seals your record. In other states, it’s as easy as having an administrative official handle it. Once the petition is granted, there is usually nothing more for you to do. Your records will be sealed automatically; however, it will take a little while for it to go into effect.