Pardons in Oklahoma: What They Are and How to Get Them

Pardons are formal acts of forgiveness for misdemeanors and/or felonies in the state of Oklahoma. They restore certain rights after convictions. They can also expand a person’s professional and educational opportunities.

Receiving a governor’s pardon is a process that begins with submitting an application to the Pardons and Parole Board of Oklahoma. The board will then conduct an investigation to determine whether an offender’s case is eligible for the governor’s review.

What is a pardon?

Pardons are declarations of forgiveness from the state. While they do not commute sentences or grant parole, they acknowledge that an offender has paid appropriately for their past and made significant efforts to live as a productive, law-abiding citizen.

After pardons, offenders can have some of their rights such as voting, restored. A pardon can help a person repair their reputation after a conviction. In fact, pardons are an integral step in formally expunging one’s criminal record, too. Before a person’s crimes are expunged, they must earn a pardon from the governor.

In Oklahoma, a governor’s pardon only applies to state crimes. Pardons cannot be granted for federal crimes or crimes committed in other states.

Who grants pardons in Oklahoma?

The state’s constitution gives Oklahoma’s governor the power to pardon and commute the sentences of offenders.

While the governor has the power to grant pardons, Oklahoma’s Pardons and Parole Board plays a crucial role in the process of giving pardons and commutations. The board processes initial requests for pardons, investigates their circumstances, and makes recommendations to the governor based on their findings.

Those seeking pardons must apply to the Pardons and Parole Board, which helps determine if there is sufficient eligibility for a pardon. Upon an investigation, the board can present the petition for a pardon to the governor for review.

The Pardons and Parole Board consists of five appointed members. The governor appoints three of the board’s members, and the chief justice of the state’s Supreme Court along with the presiding judge of the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals appoints the other two members.

What are the benefits of a pardon?

Pardons present unique benefits to those who have been convicted of crimes in Oklahoma. Since pardons help repair a person’s legal reputation, they can increase one’s eligibility for educational and professional opportunities.

For instance, receiving a pardon can grant people candidacy for professional and vocational licenses. Following are examples of how pardons assist with employment and business opportunities:

  • Licensure for professions like nursing and gunsmithing
  • Certifications and endorsements such as HAZMAT
  • Eligibility for employment in law enforcement
  • Retail businesses that require licenses such as liquor stores

Those with pardons can be eligible to hold public office, vote, serve on juries, and own firearms. Gun ownership, however, does not extend to violent offenders. Pardons for crimes like rape, assault, burglary, and murder do not restore a person’s right to own firearms.

Other benefits to receiving pardons include access to public assistance in the form of food stamps and housing.

Who is eligible for pardons in Oklahoma?

While the decision to grant a pardon is a power granted to the state’s governor, there are basic requirements for eligibility. Those seeking pardons cannot be in jail or prison. They must not have pending criminal charges either. Additionally, the applicant for a pardon is not eligible if he or she has been considered for a pardon in the last year.

Most importantly, offenders must demonstrate remorse for their crimes along with a commitment to living an honest, law-abiding lifestyle.

Where are pardon applications sent?

Completed pardon applications are mailed to the General Counsel of the Pardons and Parole Board.

How long does the pardon process take?

The process for reviewing and investigating pardons occurs after the board receives a completed application. Since the board must review an applicant’s eligibility and conduct an impartial investigation, the process takes six to twelve months.

An attorney can help with navigating a person’s options when it comes to pardons and their benefits. Criminal defense and civil rights attorneys assist with determining their clients’ candidacy for pardons and with preparing paperwork to submit to the Pardons and Parole Board.

Call our criminal defense attorney at 405-604-3200, if you have questions about governor’s pardons in Oklahoma.


What are the consequences of felony convictions in Oklahoma?

If you’re convicted of a felony in Oklahoma, jail time is only one of your worries. In addition to the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence, you’ll also face all kinds of barriers when you return home from prison.

What constitutes a felony in Oklahoma?

Felonies in Oklahoma are defined as a crime for which you can be punished with jail time or death. Oklahoma is one of the only states that does not classify its felonies into different categories, so each felony has its own maximum penalty. Some felony convictions lead to enormous fines and up to 35 years in prison, while others have smaller fines and can only lead to 5 years in prison.

So what are some felony crimes in Oklahoma?

  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Rape
  • Assault, battery, or assault and battery with a dangerous weapon
  • Desertion of children under the age of 10
  • Possession of child pornography, etc.

Some more surprising felonies include:

  • Adultery
  • Dueling
  • Mutilating, treating with indignity, or destroying the flag
  • Assisting a suicide
  • Commercial gambling

Note: A misdemeanor is a crime deemed less serious than a felony. However, there are some crimes in Oklahoma that can be charged as either one.

What rights do you lose with felony convictions in Oklahoma?

Felons in Oklahoma are prohibited from the following activities:

  • Voting during your sentence
  • Serving on a jury
  • Running for office within 15 years of the end of your sentence
  • Being employed by the state of Oklahoma
  • Owning or possessing a firearm 

However, it’s not just civic rights and duties that felons are barred from. There are also many professions you’ll lose access to if you’re convicted of a felony, including:

  • Architecture
  • Accounting
  • Engineering
  • Medicine (including nursing, dentistry, and pharmacy)
  • Funeral direction
  • Veterinary science
  • Real estate
  • Security
  • Psychology and counseling
  • Cosmetology, etc.

The good news is that Oklahoma bans state agencies from asking about felony convictions on job applications. The “ban the box” initiative is gaining traction nationwide in an attempt to reform employment opportunities for people who have been convicted of felonies.

The new law doesn’t mean that you will be hired if you have a felony on record, but the felony will not get in the way of you getting an interview and being able to explain the circumstances surrounding your conviction.

What is Oklahoma doing to reduce felony sentences?

Oklahoma has the second-highest incarceration rate in the country, and Oklahoma has the highest female incarceration rate in America.

A task force formed by the governor’s office recommended that the legislature implement dramatic prison sentencing reforms. The task force report recommended the following:

  • Allowing many inmates to become eligible for parole after serving ¼ of their sentences.
  • Lowering the penalty for methamphetamine, heroin or crack-cocaine possession to zero-five years in prison for a first-time drug conviction.

Contact Jacqui Ford Law today

While some initiatives are being taken to improve conditions for people with felony convictions, these efforts are slow-moving. If you are being charged with a felony, it’s imperative that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to handle your case. Call Jacqui Ford Law today for help.

What to do if you’re charged with possession of a firearm after felony conviction in Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, the Self-Defense Act is the law that regulates gun licenses for the state. The law prohibits people with pending charges and/or convictions for certain offenses from having a license. So which crimes are included in the law, and what happens if you’re found with a gun anyway?

What crimes prohibit you from owning a gun in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma residents with former felony convictions are prohibited from owning a gun, keeping a gun in their home, or even being in someone else’s car if there is a gun. 

In addition to all felony offenses, the following misdemeanor convictions also bar you from owning a gun in Oklahoma:

  • Assault and battery that caused serious physical harm to the victim, or any second or subsequent assault and battery conviction
  • Aggravated assault and battery
  • Stalking
  • Domestic abuse
  • An offense related to the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act or any violation of a victim’s protective order from another state
  • Drug convictions of any kind

The restrictions on gun ownership don’t stop there. You also can’t own a gun for a period of three years in Oklahoma if you’ve been convicted two or more times for public intoxication. This means that you have to wait a full three years starting from the time you finished your last sentence.

The same goes for two or more DUI convictions. You must wait a period of three years after you complete your punishment before owning a gun. (The only exception is if you have a certified letter from a doctor who states that you don’t need substance abuse treatment.)

Oklahoma law also states that you can be denied a gun license if you have “significant character defects” that are proven by a lengthy criminal history.

What happens if you are a felon convicted of possessing a gun?

In Oklahoma, if you’re a convicted felon and you are convicted as a felon in possession of a firearm, you’re going back to jail. The sentence can range from a minimum of one year to a maximum of ten years in prison. (Please note: You can also face charges if you knowingly aid someone with a felony charge obtain a firearm.)

What should you do if you are a felon arrested for owning a gun?

If you’re being charged with possessing a gun as a felon, the prosecution will have several elements to prove, including the following questions:

  • Was the gun on your person?
  • Was the gun in a vehicle in which you were riding or driving?
  • Was the gun at the home where you reside?

Prosecutors tend to go after people already convicted of a felony pretty harshly. However, there are some circumstances that can make it harder for the prosecutors to prove their case. That’s why it’s crucial that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to handle your charges.

Contact an Oklahoma attorney today

Are you or someone you know facing charges for being a felon in possession of a gun? Our team Jacqui Ford Law is here to give you the criminal defense you deserve. Contact our office today for a consultation.