How do I get a Pardon?
The conviction of a felony offense not only has immediate consequences, but consequences that can last a lifetime. This Guide provides the steps you should take & the issues to consider from an experienced Connecticut attorney who has had much success in getting absolute pardons for her clients.
What is at stake when you have a felony record?The conviction of a felony offense not only has immediate consequences, but consequences that can last a lifetime. Applying for employment, losing the right to vote, the inability to hold certain federal and state licenses, and the continual reporting that one is a convicted felon are but a few of the adversities that a convicted felon faces. In the appropriate circumstances, the Pardons Board is empowered to erase a felony conviction and with it all of the adverse consequences created by having a felony record.
When can I apply for a pardon in Connecticut and what forms are required?You may apply for a pardon as soon as three years after the disposition date of your most recent misdemeanor conviction and five years after the disposition of your most recent felony conviction. Yet, your application may be more likely to be approved if you wait until at least five years after a misdemeanor and ten years after a felony conviction, depending of course on the nature and specifics of the crime and the reason(s) you need a pardon. There is no penalty, however, in applying more than once, as long as you can demonstrate why the most recent submission is more compelling than your last one.
A minimum of three "Absolute Pardon Reference Questionnaire" forms must be submitted with your application, with only one allowed from a family member. There is no maximum limit, however, on the number of forms that you can submit as long as they have been drafted within one year of your application. Start working on gathering these documents early in the application process, but think carefully about whom to ask, as you want your references to address different aspects of your background, character, and achievements.
If a hearing is granted, how do I prepare?If your application has been approved for a hearing during the pre-screening session of the Board, prepare carefully for the hearing itself. If possible, arrange to have one or two of your supporters (family, close friends) accompany you to the proceeding. Draft what you plan to say to the panel ahead of time, practice it, and get feedback from people you trust. Remember to be very specific when you speak about your remorse for the crime, the pain you have caused others, and why you are requesting a pardon; avoid cliches and generalities.
Do I need an attorney for the pardon process?It is wise to get professional legal advice from the outset to help you a) navigate the Board of Pardon's policies and regulations; b) compile a submission packet that is well-organized, thorough, and compelling; and c) ensure that you are presenting the strongest possible case to the panel at the hearing. The application for a Full Pardon, or a Certificate of Employability that will permit you to be gainfully employed or licensed, can erase your felony conviction, eliminate all of the adverse consequences of being a convicted felon, and restore your right to vote. For more information about this topic or other legal assistance in Connecticut, contact a local attorney.