When a person is convicted of a felony, he or she typically loses the right to serve on a jury, own a gun and obtain certain occupational licenses. In order to restore these rights, a person may receive a pardon.
Pardons mean that a person is fully forgiven from the legal consequences of his or her conviction. In South Carolina, they are granted by the Probation, Parole, and Pardon Board – a state agency that is comprised of seven members appointed by the governor. Six of these members are appointed from each of the six congressional districts.
How likely am I to get a pardon in South Carolina?
According to a video released by The State, South Carolina granted an average of 400 pardons each year to roughly 64 percent of eligible applicants from 2007-2017. Out of 692 cases heard in 2017, approximately 481 pardons were granted (69.50 percent).
From 2007-2017, pardons were granted for:
- 350 assault and battery convictions
- 530 DUI convictions
- 470 criminal domestic violence convictions
- 26 manslaughter convictions
- 7 murder convictions
Those convicted of drug offenses are the most likely to be pardoned (74 percent). The least likely to be pardoned are people convicted of murder (8 percent) and sex crimes (10 percent).
South Carolina’s most high-profile pardons in South Carolina involved:
- Iconic soul singer James Brown – who was pardoned in 2003 on seven convictions involving weapons, drugs, assault, and resisting arrest.
- Civil rights activist Cleveland Sellers, Jr. – who was pardoned in 1993 after being convicted for inciting a riot in the 1968 student protest of an all-white bowling alley.
How do I apply for a pardon?
Pardons can only be considered if full restitution has been paid to the victim of a crime and restitution collection fees have been paid, according to state code (§ 17-25-322(E)).
In order to apply for a pardon, you must provide the following:
- Written letters of support – signed and dated within the last six months
- A complete application – including your name, address, home phone number, and work phone number
- Non-refundable application fee of $100 in the form of a money order or cashier’s check payable to The South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services.
After you’ve applied for a pardon, you must wait until your paperwork is reviewed, an investigation is launched, and a hearing date is scheduled. The estimated wait time is roughly 7-9 months. Applications are available online.
If you were convicted of a crime, you may deserve a second chance. Attorney Matt Bodman can help guide you through the application process and use his skill to give you the best chance for success. If you have any questions about getting a pardon, contact Matt Bodman, P.A. to learn more. A pardon could change your life!