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.