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The Federal Pardon Process

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The Federal pardon process applies only the federal convictions, convictions in the District of Columbia Superior Court, military court-martials.

By Attorney Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini, Pardons Attorney, Harrisburg, PA

There is a difference between a pardon and an expungement.  (See recent article for explanation).  There is also a difference between a State pardon and a Federal pardon.  Federal pardons may be sought for federal, military court-martial, convictions in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.  The president cannot pardon a state offense.  That must be done through the state which holds the conviction. 

Unlike the Commonwealth of PA, there is a five (5) year waiting period.  Further, the presidential pardon is only a sign of forgiveness and is granted in recognition of the applicant's acceptance of responsibility.  Unlike PA, it does not operate as a removal of the record from one's criminal history.  It will not erase or expunge the conviction from your record.  It is not a sign of vindication and does not connote or establish innocence.  Finally, there is no hearing on the merits of the Federal pardon application.  In PA, every pardon application is reviewed by the State Board of Pardons.  If granted, a hearing is then heard before the Board.  The Board then decides whether or not to recommend that the pardon be granted to the governor.

"What's the benefit of a Federal pardon if it still appears on my 'record'?"

  • First, it will note that the crime was officially pardoned and, therefore, some of the stigma is reduced for prospective employers, community members, and others.
  • It will restore rights lost as a result of the pardoned offense.
  • Peace of mind.

"What's the benefit of having a lawyer assist me in the pardon application process?"

  • The application rules and submission guidelines are exacting.  For the same reason some individuals do not feel comfortable preparing their own taxes, they have a lawyer handle the matter for them with the Department of Justice.
  • The application itself is over 20 pages and is more rigorous than the State process.
  • If denied, you may re-apply in two (2) years.

If you have be convicted of a federal offense or were the subject of a military court martial, you may be eligible for a presidential pardon.  You may contact the attorneys at Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC toll free or email us today.

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