It’s never too early to start thinking about the Pardons process! Although you have a criminal conviction, you can start making positive contributions to the community – by furthering your education, seeking and maintaining employment, getting mental and/or substance abuse treatment if needed, performing community service and/or other charitable works, and saving documentation confirming your efforts to be a contributing member of society.
The Pardons application is comprehensive and care should be taken when preparing your application package. The Board needs to have a clear picture of each applicant’s background and character. It is important that you are accurate and thorough when providing information regarding your employment history, educational background and/or training, mental health or substance abuse treatment, contributions to the community, why you want a Pardon, and how you have changed and what you learned since you committed the offense/offenses for which you are seeking a Pardon. The granting of a Pardon is in many ways an act of mercy – you are not entitled to it, but have the opportunity to demonstrate, through your application, why you merit a Pardon.
What factors are considered when reviewing a Pardon application?
The Board takes into consideration many different factors, including the nature of the offense, the amount of time that has passed since the commission of the offense, whether there are any identifiable victims of the offense and the impact on the victim(s), the nature and characteristics of the applicant, including their employment, educational, medical and social history, and the steps they have taken to become a contributing member of society. If you have been battling mental health or substance abuse issues, you should provide confirmation of consistent treatment. If you have performed community service, you should provide documentation of your efforts. Rehabilitation is a significant factor that the Board considers.
What if I get arrested while my Pardon application is pending?
You cannot have any pending state or federal criminal cases at the time you submit your application. We have come across situations where we have filed a Pardon application on behalf of a client and that client then got arrested. We recommend disclosing the arrest, withdrawing the application, and then resubmitting it after the matter has been resolved. If you get arrested while your application is pending and your case gets nolled (the charges against you get dropped), you must wait until thirteen (13) months have elapsed and the nolle turns into a dismissal before resubmitting your application. However, if you are convicted of the crime for which you were arrested, you will then have to wait three years before applying for a Pardon if the conviction was for a misdemeanor or five years if the conviction was for a felony.
Do I have to disclose my entire criminal history to the Board of Pardons, even if it does not appear on my criminal history report?
Yes! You must be completely candid with the Board of Pardons about any and all prior offense conduct that resulted in an arrest, including DUIs and other serious motor vehicle offenses, and out of state and/or federal convictions. It is your responsibility to identify all prior involvement with the criminal justice system, and we work closely with our clients to ensure that we provide accurate information when filling out their Pardon Application. We contact the DMV, local police departments and the Superior Court Records Center to obtain this information in an effort to be fully candid with the Board. Failure to identify prior criminal history, even if it does not appear on your criminal history report, may result in the Board’s denial of your Pardon application. It is always better to be candid in your responses. Omissions are regarded as untruths, and it is not advisable to fail to mention something in the hopes that the Board will not find out about it. The Board considers your entire background when making a determination on whether to grant you a Pardon, and it is imperative that you are accurate and candid in your representations, especially regarding your offense history.
How do I know if I have been granted a Pardon?
The Board of Pardons sometimes determines whether to grant a Pardon “on the papers.” In that case, the Board will notify you and your attorney of the decision by mail. Many applicants are required to appear at a hearing although you may be granted a Pardon without needing to attend a hearing. You will be notified as to whether your appearance is required via mail. If you live out of state at the time of the hearing, you will have to make arrangements to travel to Connecticut to attend your hearing. Even if you have an attorney who has helped you prepare your Pardon application, and even if that attorney accompanies you to your hearing, the Board will have questions for—and will want to hear directly from—you.
If the Board denies my application for a Pardon, can I reapply?
Yes, you can reapply, but you should wait at least one (1) year from the date of denial before you can reapply. Under certain circumstances, the Board may require that you wait a longer period of time before reapplying. You should make a copy of and save every Pardon application that you submit so that you can reference it in the future in the event you need to fill out another application.