The Process for Obtaining a Pardon
Hi, I’m Oklahoma Attorney Aaron Easton, and today we’re going to talk about the who, what, when, where, why, and how of state of Oklahoma pardons, a topic that’s often misunderstood.
To begin the who, the who is the governor of the state of Oklahoma. Much like the president of the United States, the Oklahoma governor has the constitutional right, the Oklahoma constitutional right and authority to pardon people convicted of crimes in the state of Oklahoma of those crimes.
The what is exactly what a pardon is, which is one of those things that can be misunderstood. A pardon is officially an executive recognition that the person being pardoned has turned their life around. Essentially what it is, though, is it’s an official forgiveness by the state of Oklahoma for a crime that you previously committed.
When and Where to Apply for a Pardon
The when is an important aspect here. The when part of this is you must apply for a pardon after you’ve completely finished whatever sentence you’ve been sentenced to, whether that is a jail or prison time, whether that’s a deferred sentence or a suspended sentence. You have to complete that whole process. You also have to have paid any restitution, court fees, things like that.
The where is with the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, that is the state government entity that you will first submit an application for pardon through and who will ultimately recommend that pardon to the governor of the state of Oklahoma in order to be successful in the process.
Why Seek a Pardon and the Benefits
The why perhaps goes without saying, but maybe not. So it’s important to understand that getting a pardon is more than simply a moral victory, more than just a feel-good moment that you’ve been forgiven for something that you’ve done wrong and perhaps you’re even embarrassed about, you’re ready to move on from, which is good. Forgiveness is great, but there’s more to it than that. There are some real tangible benefits that you will get in your life if you are granted a pardon, some restoration of some of those rights that you’ve lost.
Those can include, depending on what you were convicted of, it could include being able to possess a firearm again, it could include being able to serve on a jury, perhaps not the right that you’re most desirous to get back. It includes the right to hold public office again, to be able to get a state liquor license. And also, really importantly, it can improve your future employment opportunities and in fact is one of the statutory ways to have a previous conviction and or arrest actually expunged from your record. Receiving a pardon is one of the statutory ways to qualify for an expungement, so that’s important in and of itself.
The Process for Obtaining a Pardon in Oklahoma
The how is really the big thing here. That is where the process can get much more intricate, a little difficult to understand, difficult to achieve, but let’s kind of walk through that. So first, really it’s a two-step thing. First, you have to qualify to even apply for a pardon, and to apply for a pardon, the crime that you’re looking to get pardoned must have been, you must have been convicted and sentenced in the state of Oklahoma to begin with. If it’s a conviction from a different state or a federal conviction, you cannot get pardoned by the governor of Oklahoma.
As mentioned above, you must also have completed your sentence in order to receive a pardon. On top of that, you must not currently be in jail or in prison from either the crime you’re looking to get pardoned, of course, or another crime either. You must also have no pending criminal charges against you at the time that you seek to apply for a pardon. And lastly, you must not have filled out an application for a pardon in the previous year. So those are the steps to be able to apply to get a pardon.
If you qualify for that, it’s really important that you do the process correctly. It could be very particular. In order to receive a pardon, you have to follow the proper protocols, like almost like anything that has to do when the government sets up some bureaucratic process. So you have to provide the Pardon and Parole Board with proof of employment, proof of residency, proof of income. They want to know that you’re stable and that you’re a contributing member to society. You must also provide them with a certified copy with an original seal of the judgment and sentence that you received for the crime that you’re seeking to get a pardon for.
On top of that, you have to provide a certified copy from the court clerk that you’ve purged any court fees, restitution, or other fines associated with your sentence. You must also provide a credit report for yourself. And you also have to provide, and this part is pretty important, a full accounting of your criminal history and any civil matters that you’ve been involved in. So you package all this together with that Pardon and Parole Board pardon application submitted to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, and the goal, of course, is to get a recommendation from that board on to the governor of the state of Oklahoma for your pardon.
Get a Free Consultation About Obtaining a Pardon
If you have questions about this process, again, I know it can be a little confusing, and a little intricate. If you have questions or you feel like you might be a candidate or a loved one of yours might be a candidate to receive a pardon in the state of Oklahoma, I highly, highly recommend you speak to a legal professional about the matter. It’s important to get a personal consultation that’s also confidential for yourself. You can speak to somebody at my firm by calling (918) 932-2833 for a free consultation, or you can also find us online at postconviction.lawyer.