Representation in The Oklahoma Pardon Process
You’ve done your time and now you want a fresh start. Oklahoma law allows the governor to pardon those who have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony. A Tulsa pardon attorney can help you determine if you are ready to ask for official forgiveness, and if so, advise you how to best go about the pardon application process.
Admit it: crime is wrong. It’s also common. More than one of 30 Americans are incarcerated or under supervision of a probation or parole authority in a typical year. In Oklahoma, your chances of getting caught up in the legal system are among the highest in the nation. Our state had the third highest incarceration rate nationwide, with 657 out of 100,000 residents in prison during one recent year, according to the U.S. Justice Department Bureau of Justice Statistics.
A high incarceration rate means many offenders will eventually say “I’m sorry” and seek forgiveness. Each month, around 10 or 15 prior offenders ask the Oklahoma Probation and Parole Board to recommend that the governor pardon them for their offense. In a typical month half or more will be recommended for a pardon. The governor usually concurs with the boards’ recommendations.
A successful pardon application requires a detailed account of your personal, civil and criminal background. Contact a Tulsa pardon attorney at The Wirth Law Office to see what you must do to get a pardon in Oklahoma. For a free consultation, call today at (918) 879-1681.
What Does it Take to Get a Pardon?
Strength of character and sincere repentance are not enough. A long checklist of paperwork must be prepared. The application must be complete and accurate. The Pardon and Parole Board’s pardon application prescribes conditions a person must meet to be considered for a pardon. Highlights include:
- Accept responsibility: Claims of innocence won’t fly. The board looks for indications a person has accepted responsibility and has atoned for the offense for which they were convicted.
- No recent pardon applications: If you petition for a pardon, get it right or be prepared to wait at least a year. The board will refuse to consider back-to-back petitions filed less than a year apart.
- No pending charges: If you’ve been arrested or charged with a subsequent crime, regardless of whether you may eventually be found innocent or the new charges might later be dismissed, your petition can be tossed out.
Not currently in jail or in prison: That might seem obvious, but pardons are granted to offenders who have completed their obligations to the state. That includes completion of probation and parole, or completion of at least five years of supervised probation in your current case.
- Convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor: A pardon is an official stamp of forgiveness. If your case has not been adjudicated and you’ve not been found guilty, you can’t be pardoned.
Report criminal history: The Pardon and Parole Board doesn’t just look at documents you submit when it makes a decision about your petition. The board and the Department of Corrections conduct their own investigation, using the resources available to a public agency. If you omit arrests or charges, even old or out of state charges, your petition will most likely be denied.
- Credit status and civil litigation: You must list all civil matters that are in dispute or suspense. That means you must report unpaid federal, state and local tax obligations, document all delinquent credit obligations, and list all civil proceedings in which you are a party, including bankruptcy filings. You may submit explanatory material at your discretion.
- References: The Probation and Parole Board wants to know what others say about you. Your petition must include three or more character references from people who are not related to you.
- Required documents: A complete pardon petition must include a certified Judgment and Sentence for each conviction, a current credit report, proof of employment (or a statement that you’re not working), proof of residence and a certified statement from the Court Clerk that all fines and court costs have been paid.
Why Seek a Pardon?
The Pardon and Parole Board’s official petition says a pardon has little direct effect under Oklahoma law. It doesn’t remove offenses from official records. That’s a separate process. If you want criminal offenses removed from your record, you must apply for expungement. In some cases you record can only be expunged long after you’ve completed your sentence. What a pardon can do is help to demonstrate that you are a responsible citizen. A pardon shows that you’ve adjusted well to society after completing your sentence.
Practical reasons to ask for a pardon include regaining your right to vote, improving your chances in the job market, qualifying to hold public office Do you want to teach your children or grandchildren to hunt? A pardon can restore your right to own a gun. Want to operate a restaurant? A pardon can make it possible for you to apply for a liquor license.
Why Hire an Oklahoma Pardon Attorney?
The Pardon and Parole Board checks pardon applications to be sure they are formally complete and that a prior offender has demonstrated a well adjusted life after a conviction. When you rely on your own wherewithal or the advice of associates to look over your application, you’re taking chances with a costly opportunity that must be repeated if you don’t get it right and want to try again.
A Tulsa, Oklahoma pardon attorney knows where to look for the records you need to file a complete pardon application. An Oklahoma pardon attorney can look at a petition with an eye toward how the Pardon and Parole Board will view its contents. A pardon attorney knows the system and can advise you how to prepare for this important step.
If you would like a free consultation with an Oklahoma lawyer, call the Wirth Law Office at (918) 879-1681 (or toll free at (888) Wirth-Law) or submit the question form at the top right of this page.