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When could you be eligible for a pardon?


When could you be eligible for a pardon?

On behalf of Patrick T. McNally, Attorney at Law | 
July 8, 2019

A criminal charge or conviction on someone’s record can impact nearly every aspect of their life. Even a minor charge, such as a DUI or a drug charge could inhibit someone’s ability to choose where they want to live or work. And it is not easy to escape the stigma of that charge, even after someone serves their sentence.

In some cases, individuals have the option to apply for a pardon that could help erase that stigma. However, there are certain factors that make someone eligible for a pardon.

A pardon is different from an expungement

Only the governor has the authority to pardon someone. And this pardon forgives the individual of the charges or convictions against them. In some cases, it might expunge their record completely and even restore the rights they had before the conviction, such as their right to vote.

For many, a pardon can provide them with a second chance at their future.

Three requirements to be eligible for a pardon

However, before applying for a pardon, individuals must ensure they meet the requirements. These requirements include:

  1. No recent charge or conviction: The individual must prove that they have no criminal offense or conviction on their record in the last five years since their last offense, or since they completed serving their sentence. Qualification for a pardon might also depend on the severity of the original charge.
  2. Proof they are an upstanding citizen: Sometimes, one mistake can develop into a criminal charge that impacts the rest of someone’s life. These one-time situations make it more likely for someone to obtain a pardon, especially if they provide evidence that they are an upstanding citizen. This evidence could include:
    • Obtaining a college degree
    • Involvement in the community
    • Respecting rules of the community
  3. Good reason for a pardon: The Tennessee Board of Parole and the government do need a valid reason to grant a pardon. Many examples of common reasons include:
    • Receiving a job offer
    • Applying for citizenship
    • Obtaining child custody
    • Applying for a loan

These three conditions are necessary to apply for a pardon. The governor may also include certain conditions in the pardon that the individual must adhere to.

Getting a pardon is a challenge, but it is possible

Since a pardon essentially forgives someone of a conviction, it can often be difficult to obtain one. Individuals must provide clear evidence that they meet these qualifications, but even then, their future might be uncertain. It is often helpful for individuals seeking a pardon to speak with an experienced defense attorney to guide them through the process.

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