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The Ohio Constitution vests the power to pardon in the Governor, who may grant pardons for any criminal conviction except treason or impeachment. The Governor generally considers only the applications for pardon that are forwarded to him by the Ohio Board of Pardons, which is part of the Adult Parole Authority. However, in some exceptional cases, the Governor may request the Parole Board to open an investigation into a specific case.
If you are interested in applying for a pardon in Ohio, contact the Columbus criminal defense lawyers with Luftman, Heck & Associates at 614-500-3836 or submit a request online. We can evaluate your situation and review all your options, including a possible pardon or expungement.
Understanding the Pardon Application Process in Ohio
The Ohio legislature has created a relatively straightforward process for applying for a pardon, which starts with a written application submitted to the Parole Board. The application for pardon can be found here: http://www.drc.state.oh.us/web/ExecClemency.htm. Although you won’t need a lawyer to fill out the form, the assistance of an attorney can greatly enhance your chances of succeeding–especially when it comes to proving to the board that you deserve clemency.
The Parole Board investigates each pardon application it receives, compiles a detailed report about your case and then makes an advisory recommendation to the governor. No less than three weeks before reaching its decision, the board must notify the victim or their family about the pardon process. The victims have a right to submit their comments to the board, and may in some cases ask that you not be granted a pardon. The board may schedule a hearing during which you, your lawyer, the victims, and any other interested parties may address the board.
The Governor reviews all completed pardon applications, even the ones recommended for denial. The recommendation is advisory only, so the Governor may grant your pardon even if the Board of Parole recommends a denial. That being said, having the board recommend a pardon vastly increases the chances of the Governor granting your pardon.
Many factors can influence the governor’s decision on your case, including:
- The nature of the offense
- Statements from the victims
- The amount of time served
- The way you have lived since your release from prison
- Letters of support from community members and employers
- Recommendations from the judge and prosecutor of your case
If the Governor decides to grant your pardon, the Ohio constitution requires the governor to report “each case of reprieve, commutation, or pardon granted” to the general assembly, stating the name crime, sentence, its date, the date of the commutation, and if it is a pardon or reprieve, along with the Governor’s reasons.”
The whole process may take anywhere from six to eight months. If you apply for a pardon and get rejected, you must wait two years before applying again. In some cases, the Governor may grant a partial pardon, which may make your freedom conditional on any number of conditions, such as completing college or performing community service.
If the governor grants a full pardon, you will be released from all punishment and disabilities resulting from your criminal conviction. But you may not be able to have your record expunged. As the Ohio Supreme Court put it, a pardon grants forgiveness but not forgetfulness. If the offense for which you were convicted is not one eligible for expungement, then a court has no authority to expunge that record–even if you’ve been pardoned.
Who Can Apply for an Ohio Pardon?
Anyone who has been convicted of a crime in Ohio may apply for an Ohio pardon. If you’ve been convicted outside of Ohio, you must apply for a pardon with the government of the state where you were convicted, or with the federal government if you were convicted in a federal court. You may apply for a pardon at any point after you’ve been convicted of a crime, but it is unlikely that the board will recommend a pardon unless you’ve lived a crime-free life for several years after your release from detention.
Mike DeWine, the current Governor of Ohio, has launched an Expedited Pardons Project, giving qualified applicants the opportunity to bypass the waitlist for pardon consideration. Successful applicants can have their application processed within months, rather than the usual one to two years. Eligibility criteria can be found on the project’s website.
Contact LHA to Discuss Your Pardon Eligibility
If you’ve been convicted of a crime, a pardon may be a viable option to starting your life over. By limiting the collateral consequences of your conviction, the pardon can pave the way to a stable job and to regain a good reputation.
At Luftman, Heck & Associates we are dedicated to helping people put their criminal past behind them. If you want to learn more about obtaining a pardon, call us today at 614-500-3836 for a free and confidential consultation about your case.