FAQ about pardons for criminal convictions in South Carolina
A trusted South Carolina pardon lawyer answers your questions
Attorney Matt Bodman realizes how important the process can be to receive a pardon for a prior criminal conviction. Ex-offenders often become prisoners of their past due to the stigma associated with being previously convicted, but you have options to move forward from the impact of having a prior conviction, and Attorney Matt Bodman can help explain your rights.
Ex-offenders who return to the public after committing a crime face substantial barriers, commonly referred to as “collateral consequences.” These barriers can lead to recidivism, that is, a regression back into the legal system. Attorney Bodman is a former public prosecutor in Richland County, and he fully comprehends how the whole pardon system works.
Attorney Matt Bodman understands you have questions about pardons and the pardon process, and that’s why he’s providing answers to frequently asked questions regarding pardons in South Carolina. If you want to restore your rights, a pardon lawyer can help. Contact the South Carolina law firm of Matt Bodman, P.A. today for a free consultation.
- How is a pardon different from parole or probation?
- Who will consider my pardon application?
- Who is eligible to receive a pardon?
- How do I apply for a pardon in South Carolina?
- How long will the whole pardon process take?
- What are my chances of getting a pardon?
- What happens when I’m granted a pardon?
- How can a lawyer help me with a pardon?
A pardon means an individual is fully forgiven for their crime and may have rights restored that they lost upon conviction. Probation is an alternative to imprisonment that allows someone to remain in the community under supervision, while parole grants a convicted individual the right to serve their sentence in the community.
The South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services Board will consider your application and if approved, hold a hearing to determine whether or not you shall be granted a pardon for a prior criminal conviction. The DPPPS is an independent board that’s appointed by the governor and has the ability to grant pardons, except in capital cases, where the governor retains authority. The board is required to hold pardon hearings at least four times a year, but recently has held them every two months.
Ex-offenders who have completed their sentences or have been under supervision for five years and paid all their fines/restitution in full are eligible to seek redemption in the form of a pardon. Those who are on probation, parole, or who have been discharged from a sentence may be eligible for a pardon, assuming all restitution has been paid in full. Pardons are only for state offenders.
In order for the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services Board to determine whether or not you are eligible for a pardon, you must first fill out and submit an application. The pardon application must include written letters of support that are signed and dated by the writers within the last six months, along with the contact information of everyone who submits a letter. The letters have to be from people who are not related to you in any way and must specifically state that the writer is in support of your pardon. Applications also include extensive information about the applicant and require a non-refundable $100 application fee. Making sure all the application requirements are satisfied is a critical step in the pardon process, as incomplete applications or applications that are done incorrectly can ruin your chances of getting a pardon hearing. That’s why getting South Carolina criminal defense lawyer Matt Bodman to help you through the entire process can prove to be a wise decision.
Once you submit an application to the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services Board, all of that information needs to be verified, which can take some time. On average, it takes 7-9 months from the date of your application and all the necessary paperwork is received to get a hearing date scheduled. Hearings are held in the order the applications are received.
On average, South Carolina issues about 300-400 pardons per year, approving grants to 60-65% of applicants. While every case is different, the majority of ex-offenders who are granted pardon hearings end up receiving an Order of Pardon from the Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services Board. Getting a knowledgeable South Carolina pardon lawyer like Matt Bodman to help you through the process will certainly help.
If you are granted a pardon then an Order of Pardon will be signed by at least 2/3 of the members of the Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services Board. An official South Carolina Pardon Certificate will be issued, and the civil rights that you lost as a result of your previous conviction will be restored. These rights include:
- The right to serve on a jury
- The right to hold public office (some exceptions apply)
- The right to testify without having to acknowledge pardoned convictions (some exceptions apply)
While your conviction may still be considered by employers or when attempting to obtain certain employment licenses, you may not be denied a license just because of your prior conviction unless you were convicted of a crime that is directly related to that profession or occupation. It is important to note that pardons do not erase ─ or in legal terms, expunge ─ your criminal record. It simply erases all the legal effects of your prior conviction.
South Carolina pardon attorney Matt Bodman can help you through the entire pardon process, from the application to the hearing. Attorney Matt Bodman understands ex-offenders need closure after paying their debt to society and realizes a pardon would provide an opportunity for a second chance. Take steps to take back control of your life. Contact the South Carolina law firm of Matt Bodman, P.A. today for a free consultation.