Having a criminal conviction on your record can make it difficult to find a job. If you were convicted of a felony, you lose your right to serve on a jury, pursue a professional license, own a gun, or hold public office. By receiving a pardon, you're cleared of the legal consequences of your criminal conviction and your rights are restored.
How the pardon board determines who gets one
When considering who should receive a pardon and who shouldn't, the Probation, Parole, and Pardon Board — a seven-member agency — takes several factors into account.
If you are eligible for a pardon and applied for one, you will be given about 10 minutes to appear before the board to convince them that you're rehabilitated and won't offend again in the future.
During a hearing, board members will often browse through your employment and criminal history and read notes provided by investigators prior to the hearing. Board members will likely ask questions throughout the hearing, but for the most part, the hearing will be led by the chairman.
Board members base their decisions primarily on two factors:
- How likely will an ex-convict re-offend?
- Has the ex-convict turned his or her life around?
“You can see it (an ex-offender’s life) turn around,” said Henry Eldridge, chairman of the pardon board. “We’ve granted pardons to murderers before. And we’ve granted pardons to sex offenders.”
Those convicted of murder or sexual offenses are less likely to receive pardons (about 8-10 percent) in contrast with those convicted of other crimes. That goes for anyone who has committed crimes against children or showed no remorse for their crimes, as well.
Overall, about 64 percent of ex-convicts who have applied for pardons within the past decade have received them. On any given day, board members may grant pardons to about three out of four applicants who were convicted of crimes ranging from fraud to manslaughter.
If you served your time, you deserve a second chance
The Greenville News story mentions one particular pardon granted to an applicant convicted of manslaughter after inadvertently killing another person in a fistfight. Reflecting on his past, he tells the board "It's kind of hard to look back at that person."
The applicant served his time and now has a family and a career as an owner of a construction business. He also helps inmates in the same prison where he served time by doing construction demonstrations. His criminal conviction, however, made it difficult for him to find work opportunities and participate in activities at his children's school.
Many ex-convicts in South Carolina are capable of turning their lives around. Moreover, the crimes were committed when they were younger and less likely to consider the consequences of their actions.
If you already served your time and are dedicated to turning your life around, you deserve a chance to redeem yourself. Receiving a pardon, however, is easier said than done. Even those who deserve to be cleared of their criminal past can be denied. Pardon attorney Matt Bodman can make the process easier for you and maximize your chances of being pardoned.
To learn more, contact Matt Bodman, P.A. and set up your free consultation today.