Pardons v. Expungements
First off, understand there is a difference between a PARDON and an EXPUNGEMENT. An expungement seals a conviction in your criminal record (thus it does not appear on criminal databases, like it was never there). Alabama does NOT have an expungement process, and even if it did, like every other state, sex offenders cannot expunge their sex crime convictions. A pardon is a symbolic "forgiveness" and restoration of legal rights taken away from your conviction.
NOTE: There are times errors in your criminal record interferes with your bid for a pardon. CLICK HERE for information on how to clear errors in your record.
Partial v. Full Pardons
I have a "partial pardon." Some rights were restored to me-- in my case, restoration of voting rights. In short, you CAN obtain a full pardon, though the chances of getting one is slim. Something the pardon board FAQ failed to mention is you MUST have paid off your obligation to the state (all your fines, attorney fees, etc). If you have any debt to the state, you cannot obtain a FULL pardon, but at best a partial pardon (that is why I only have a partial pardon). Despite what the Pardon site claims, you CAN get voting rights restored as a sex offender. Either that or I'm special.
Out of State Offenders
If your sex crime conviction is in another state, you have to obtain the pardon through your state of conviction. If you were convicted in Alabama and live in Ohio, you obtain a pardon through Alabama. If you were convicted in Ohio and reside in Alabama, you obtain your pardon in Alabama. If your case is Federal, then you must obtain a Presidential Pardon. CLICK HERE to read more on obtaining a Presidential/ Federal Pardon, as the rules are different that the process for Alabama. Sadly, Obama has granted very few pardons. Going by the Pardon board FAQ, you can still find relief from federal convictions through the state, though the state pardon is invalid outside Alabama.
The following Q&A was obtained from the AL Parole and Pardon Board website:
Q: When is a person eligible to apply for a pardon with restoration of civil and political rights in Alabama?
A: Upon the completion of a sentence or after a person has completed 3 consecutive years of successful Alabama parole. Persons still under sentence and not having completed 3 years of successful parole may apply for a pardon, but it must be based on innocence and requires the approval of the sentencing court or prosecuting District Attorney. An individual placed on supervised or unsupervised probation may apply for a pardon after completion of their probationary period.
Q: How do I apply for a pardon?
A: A request for a pardon can be made by writing the Board of Pardons and Paroles at P O Box 302405, Montgomery AL 36130-2405. The request should include all of the following information:
- Name under which convicted
- True Name
- Sex and race
- Date of birth
- Social Security Number
- AIS# (Alabama Prison number), if you have one
- Current physical address including county
- Current mailing address, if different
- Indicate if the conviction was a State or Federal Conviction
- Home telephone number
- Work telephone number, if you have one
- Complete list of charges, county(s) of conviction and year(s) of conviction.
NOTE: Each jurisdiction has a parole/ pardon board representative. You can obtain a form through many of these offices to fill out. In addition, you need at least three solid references to help testify to your character. A priest/ preacher, a pillar of the community, or some person of status is VERY useful. The better the reference, the better your chances. It doesn't hurt to have as many positive references swamp the pardon board with letters right before your pardon hearing. At the actual pardon hearing, you can only have three people with you. Have your best references with you if possible.
Q: What is involved in the pardon process?
A: Once a request is received, it will be assigned to a probation officer for the completion of an investigation. The investigation will include current information on the applicant's home situation, job status, and an updated criminal arrest record, written references and other information as warranted. Once the investigation is complete, a hearing will be set before the Parole Board. Required notification will be sent to the victim, certain officials in the jurisdiction of the conviction, and the applicant. Once all required parties are notified, a hearing will be held before the Parole Board and a decision will be made to grant or deny the pardon request.
Q: Are records of conviction destroyed in cases where a pardon is granted with a restoration of civil and political rights?
A: No. Alabama does not expunge records. The arrest and conviction will continue to show up when a criminal history is run. It is important to keep a copy of your pardon in case it is ever requested.
Q: If the Parole Board grants a pardon, does that restore all of my rights?
A: Not necessarily. The Board may grant a full pardon, which restores all rights, or they may grant a pardon with restrictions. The Board may restrict the right to possess a firearm and/or they may require that a person convicted of a sex offense continue to comply with all sex offender restrictions. They may also not relieve an offender of the consequences of the habitual offender act. The Board has the discretion to place other restrictions as deemed appropriate.
Q: Does Alabama accept applications for pardons with restoration of civil and political rights for individuals with a federal conviction?
A: Yes, if the sentence is complete. A pardon with restoration of civil and political rights may be granted to applicants who reside in Alabama. If the applicant resides in another state, we recommend that they apply in the state of residence. A pardon from Alabama on a federal case is only good in Alabama.
Q: Does the Board of Pardons and Paroles pardon misdemeanor convictions?
A: Yes, if the conviction is considered a crime of moral turpitude under the Alabama Law. Example of crimes of moral turpitude are: theft, attempted theft, receiving stolen property, bad checks, domestic violence, fraud, desertion from the military and attempting to defraud.
Q: How likely is it that a person would receive a full pardon?
A: Very Unlikely. The Parole Board rarely restores gun rights, relieves a person of the consequences of complying with the Sex Offender Notification Law or relieves an offender of the consequences resulting from a conviction under the Habitual Offender Act. The Board restores these rights in less than 2% of cases considered.
Here is the website for the Alabama Department of Pardons and Parole:
--Derek W. Logue