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What is a “pardon” and does it get rid of my criminal record?

A pardon is forgiveness by the governor for a crime committed. A person who is pardoned cannot be further punished for the forgiven offense and should not be penalized for having a record of the offense.  [State ex rel. Atty. Gen. V. Peters, 43 Ohio St. 629, 650 (1885)].  But, the Ohio Supreme Court also has said that just because the governor grants someone a pardon, the pardon does not automatically entitle the person to have their criminal record sealed. [State v. Boykin, 138 Ohio St.3d 97, 104, 2013-Ohio-4582,¶27].

The application to ask for a pardon is called an “application for clemency.”  These applications must be in writing and must be sent to the Adult Parole Authority.

The Ohio Parole Board, a part of the Adult Parole Authority, processes all clemency applications. Your application will be reviewed by the Parole Board. After reviewing your case, the Parole Board gives the Governor a recommendation. The Governor decides whether to grant the pardon.

The Governor grants pardons to people who show that they have been rehabilitated and have assumed the responsibilities of citizenship.  In 2005 and 2006, the Governor received 63 clemency requests and he granted 29 pardons.  In 2007, the governor granted 39 pardons out of 233 requests.

The forms and instructions required to file for a pardon can be found on the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections website.

The Ohio Bar Association answers frequently asked questions about the application process on its website.

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