FAQs – Pardons

Pardons

44. What is a pardon?

If you have a felony conviction in Georgia, you cannot get it restricted from your criminal history, no matter how much time has passed. You may, however, be eligible for a pardon. A pardon in Georgia is “an order of official forgiveness and is granted to those individuals who have maintained a good reputation in their community following the completion of their sentence(s).” Pardons in Georgia are granted by the State Board of Pardons & Paroles and may help you advance in employment, housing, or education.

45. Will a pardon restrict or seal my conviction from my criminal history?

No, a pardon does not restrict, erase, or seal the charge from your criminal history. You will receive a certificate of rehabilitation, and it will be noted on your official Georgia criminal history record.

46. Am I eligible for a pardon?

You qualify for a pardon if:

  • You have been convicted of a felony offense in Georgia
  • You completed all sentences at least five (5) years before applying (this means that you have been off parole or probation for this period);
  • You have lived a law-abiding life (no convictions) in the last five (5) years;
  • You do not have any pending charges (open cases); and
  • All of your fines or restitution are paid

47. What if I need a misdemeanor pardoned or can’t wait five years?

A Pardon is generally for a felony conviction(s) and normally you must wait five (5) years after completing your sentence to apply. Occasionally the State Board will grant an exception to these requirements, but they are rare. See the State Board of Pardons & Paroles website (www.pap.georgia.gov) for more information.

Exceptions may be considered for the following reasons:

  • Adoption/Custody/Foster Care/Daycare
  • Section VIII Housing
  • Truck Driving into Canada
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Immigration
  • Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (POST)

48. Do I need an attorney to file for a pardon?

There is no cost to apply for a pardon, and you do not need an attorney. Be aware that it can take up to nine (9) months for your application to be considered.

49. Can I get a pardon for my First Offender case?

If your First Offender status was revoked and you were convicted, you can apply for a pardon of that conviction. If you successfully completed your First Offender sentence, the charge should have been sealed from your GCIC criminal history record; discharged First Offender cases do not need to be pardoned because there has been no conviction.

50. Can I get a pardon for a dismissed or dead docketed charge?

No, a pardon is for a conviction(s) only. You may be eligible for record restriction to restrict dismissed or dead docketed charges from your criminal history.

51. Can I get a pardon from the governor or president?

No, only the State Board of Pardons & Paroles grants pardons in Georgia. The President pardons convictions of federal offenses only.

52. What are my chances of getting a pardon?

According to a recent study, 38% of the applications for pardons are approved.

53. What is a Restoration of Civil and Political Rights?

A Restoration of Civil and Political Rights restores those civil rights that are lost in Georgia at the time of conviction. This includes the right to run for and hold public office, sit on a jury, and become a Notary Public. To apply for a Restoration of Civil and Political Rights you must have completed all sentences at least two (2) years before applying and have lived a law-abiding life during that two years.

54. If I get a pardon, do I have the right to possess a firearm?

A pardon does not restore your right to own and carry a firearm, but you can apply to get a Restoration of Right to Receive, Possess or Transport in Commerce of a Firearm at the same time you apply for a pardon. You must meet all of the eligibility requirements for a pardon,  as well as submit three (3) letters of recommendation, and have a personal  interview.

How to Get a Pardon in Georgia: Sample Letter of Recommendation

Date

State Board of Pardons and Paroles                                                                                                                              2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, S.E.                                                                                                                    Balcony Level, East Tower                                                                                                                                   Atlanta, GA 30334-4909

Dear State Board of Pardons and Paroles:

I am writing in support of Ms. XXXX’s application for a pardon. I have known her for X years. I was Ms. XXXX’s manager when we worked together at the XXXX Company (list how you personally know the applicant).

I have had the opportunity to talk to Ms. XXXX about the mistakes she has made in the past and she has demonstrated that she has changed (write what you know and feel about the applicant). Ms. XXXX has been a responsible employee. She was never late; was polite to customers; and worked hard (write about what you have observed).

Unfortunately, Ms. XXXX was laid off recently and is having trouble finding a new job. I hope the Board will consider granting her a pardon to improve her chances.

Sincerely,

XXXX

How to Get a Pardon in Georgia: Sample Personal Statement

Date

State Board of Pardons and Paroles                                                                                                                              2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, S.E.                                                                                                                      Balcony Level, East Tower                                                                                                                                  Atlanta, GA 30334-4909

Dear State Board of Pardons and Paroles:

My name is XXXX and I am requesting a pardon due to the progress I have made in my life. I realize that I made some bad choices in my life, but I have worked hard to … (take responsibility for your actions and talk about how you have moved on).

The convictions on my criminal history occurred more than ten years ago when I was battling alcoholism and addiction. I have been sober for 6 years and currently attend a 12-step program (speak to your personal circumstances and story).

It has been very hard for me to find a job (or housing, whatever your situation is) with my record, and I hope a pardon will help. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

XXXX

How to Get a Pardon in Georgia

A pardon in Georgia is “an order of official forgiveness granted to those individuals who have maintained a good reputation in their community following the completion of their sentence(s).” Pardons in Georgia are granted for felony convictions by the State Board of Pardons & Paroles and may be helpful for advancement in employment, housing, or education.

ELIGIBILITY:

  1. You were convicted of a felony offense in Georgia;
  2. You completed all sentences at least five (5) years before applying (this means that you have been off parole or probation for five years);
  3. You have lived a law-abiding life in the last five (5) years;
  4. You do not have any pending charges; and
  5. All of your fines and/or restitution are paid.

PROCESS:

  1. 1. Complete a pardon application. (NOTE: You can submit one application for multiple felony convictions.)
  2. Get your official GCIC criminal history record from a law enforcement agency for a fee.
  3. Review your GCIC criminal history record and see if any final dispositions are missing. (NOTE: A final disposition is the result of your charges.)
  4. Get certified copies of any missing dispositions for felony arrests occurring in the last fifteen (15) years. (NOTE: a certified copy is available for a small fee at the office of the clerk of the court that handled the case, and it will have a raised seal on it.)
  5. Provide current employment information and sign a waiver for the Board to access your employment history.
  6. Mail your application and the required materials to the State Board at the address provided on the application.
  7. Wait approximately nine (9) months for a response.
  8. If approved, wait six (6) weeks and obtain a new GCIC criminal history record to make sure your record shows you have been pardoned of the offense(s).
  9. If you are denied, you may want to wait a couple of years and try again. There is no appeal process.

REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION:

  1. Application, which is included in these instructions or can be found on the website for the State Board of Pardon & Paroles at http://pap.georgia.gov/pardons-restoration-rights.  Please note that page 2 of the application must be notarized.
  2. Certified copies of required missing dispositions.
  3. A copy of your GCIC criminal history record that is less than ten (10) days old.
  4. A self-addressed, stamped envelope.

OPTIONAL DOCUMENTATION:

You don’t want to overwhelm the Board with too much information, but may want to send one or more of the following to show that you have been rehabilitated and how important a pardon will be in your life.

  1. Personal letter – Explain briefly why a pardon is important to you and why you think you deserve one.
  2. Letter(s) of recommendation from people who know you (such as community leaders, employers, or counselors who can vouch for your good character).
  3. Resume, transcripts, certificates, awards and any other documentation of educational, training, drug treatment or other programs you have completed that have helped you to improve yourself.