Felons know how challenging it can be as they move forward in life with a felony on their record.
It seems like the conviction penalties follow them no matter what they do and affects all aspects of their life from finding a job, to obtaining housing, continuing their education, or obtaining a loan.
For felons who believe they deserve forgiveness for the offense, a pardon may offer hope.
This blog post will cover the process of applying for a pardon in Texas.
- What is a Pardon?
- Federal vs. State Pardon
- Types of Pardons in Texas
- Application Process in Texas
- Supporting the Felon after the Pardon Decision
What is a Pardon?
A pardon is a term for forgiving for a particular crime without actually clearing a felony record. Felons who have a criminal conviction for which they believe the sentence was too harsh or not deserved given the circumstances can apply for a pardon.
Felons who feel they have paid their debt to society and are entitled to having any further possible punishments for their crime withdrawn may wish to consider petitioning the government for a pardon.
A pardon is a form of clemency. While a pardon does not erase the conviction, it goes on the criminal record that they have been legally forgiven for the crime and the restrictions imposed on a felon no longer apply.
This will allow them to have their right to vote and hold public office restored. They will also be allowed to own a firearm.
Nevertheless, their felony conviction will still be part of the public record and able to be viewed. Their felony conviction must still be reported in any situation inquiring about prior criminal history.
Federal vs. State Pardon
A pardon may be a federal or a state pardon depending on whether it is a federal or state offense.
For a federal pardon, a petition will go to the President of the United States. For a state crime in Texas, the application will go to the governor for approval.
Prior to the application going to the governor for approval, the Texas Parole Board must review and recommend it.
In some states, felons must wait at least five years before being eligible for a pardon. In Texas, they must only have served their full sentence, including all terms of probation and any restitution owed.
It is difficult to get a pardon in Texas. In 2012, 529 applications were received with only 38 being granted by the governor of the state.
Types of Pardons in Texas
In the state of Texas, there are three types of pardons. The Texas parole Board and the governor will decide which kind of pardon to grant.
The first is a full pardon that releases felons from all conditions of the sentence and will also restore the Constitutional rights that were lost.
A full pardon can remove some barriers to employment and help with obtaining a professional license.
A conditional pardon releases felons from the conditions of the sentence but does not restore civil rights. A conditional pardon is based on certain conditions being met and can be revoked if those conditions are broken.
A conditional pardon is considered only if felons are released to a different country or under extreme or unusual circumstances.
Then, there is a pardon based on innocence, which releases felons from further punishment and restores rights because they are declared innocent of the crime. This is exoneration for state crimes.
Federal convictions or convictions from other states must be pardoned first.
There are a number of steps involved in the application process.
Felons must state the reason for seeking a pardon, and how the pardon will help them accomplish that.
They will need to provide evidence why it would be in the public’s best interest as well as their own to receive a pardon.
They may need documentation, such as a letter from appropriate government or licensing authorities. They must have a clean criminal record after the time of the initial conviction.
Their personal background is extremely important. The nature, seriousness, and length of time since their conviction along with their overall criminal record will be considered.
Any hardship they may be suffering as a result of their conviction is also important. Involvement in community service or charitable activities will make a difference.
Felons will need to submit three letters of recommendations from character witnesses who are not part of their immediate family.
Part of the review will be contacting the victim and original jurisdiction where they were convicted.
Following the review, the application will be submitted to the governor with a recommendation. The governor will then make a decision on the request for pardon.
Felons must list any bankruptcies, tax or other financial obligations. They must include any civil lawsuit of which they are a part.
Additionally, they must include every violation, including traffic offenses, which resulted in an arrest or conviction.
Before submitting any such application, it will be important to consult with an attorney for legal advice and assistance with the pardon application process.
Even though felons may be pardoned, the original offense can still be used against them if they commit another crime, and they will still be considered a repeat offender.
If felons are successful in achieving a pardon, some things in their life will change.
While the conviction will remain on their record, they will no longer be subject to the penalties that typically go along with a felony record.
They will once again be able to own a firearm, vote, and hold public office. Obtaining a loan or mortgage may be easier also. If their pardon application is denied, those penalties will remain with them.
Supporting the Felon after the Pardon Decision
For families of felons who have achieved a pardon in Texas, reinforce their efforts and the difficulty they faced in applying for and persisting with the lengthy pardon process.
If they can work hard enough to accomplish that, they can achieve so much more.
For families of felons who have been turned down for a pardon, continue to be there and be supportive. Do not allow your loved one to get discouraged or give up.
They have lived with their criminal record and the consequences this long, and they can continue their quest for a better life even without a pardon.
Continue to encourage them to live life the right way and not return to their criminal behavior. Don’t let them become one of the 2/3 who return to prison within the first two years following release.
So what do you think about this blog post about how to apply for a pardon in Texas? Have you or someone you know been through this process? What was that like and were they successful? Please tell us in the comments below.