In Oklahoma, the governor can pardon criminal convictions. Generally, pardons are granted after the governor receives a positive recommendation from the Parole Board. It is important to note that while pardons are not impossible, they are uncommon and getting one is complicated. Keep reading for more information about pardons.
What Is a Pardon?
According to Cornell Law School, a pardon is “the use of executive power that exempts the individual to whom it was given from punishment.” In other words, a pardon, once granted, removes the obligation to serve the sentence for a crime.
For example, if a person were pardoned for first-degree murder, they would not have to serve time in prison. In Oklahoma, this could mean that a person is exempt from serving a life sentence or receiving the death penalty.
To qualify for a pardon, a person must fit into a rigid set of standards. These standards ensure that pardons go only to the best candidates and to deter governors from abusing their power.
In general, to be eligible for a pardon a person must:
- Have been convicted of an Oklahoma violation – felony or misdemeanor – or a crime of moral turpitude involving alcohol or illegal drugs
- Have fully completed the sentence, including parole and probation, or have five years of continuous success during probation or while on parole
- Have paid all fines, fees, court costs, restitution, etc. in full
- Not have any new or pending criminal charges, detainers, warrants, child support arrearages, or tax liens
- Not have been considered for a pardon in the previous three years
Traffic misdemeanors do not qualify for pardon. Additionally, federal crimes, capitol crimes, and international crimes are not within the jurisdiction of the state governor to pardon.
The President may offer a pardon, but only for federal crimes.
What Does a Pardon Do?
A pardon from the governor can have a positive impact on an individual. Depending on the crime committed, an individual may lose voting rights, access to professional licenses, property rights, and the right to own firearms. Not only can a pardon restore these rights, but it may also open up opportunities that would otherwise be closed to those with criminal convictions.
For example, an individual has dreamed of opening their own restaurant but find themselves serving a criminal sentence. They receive a pardon and are now free to open the restaurant of their dreams. Oklahoma does not allow anyone with felony convictions to hold a liquor license so a pardon may allow the person to open a bar or restaurant that serves alcohol.
Other benefits of a pardon include:
- Restoration of voting rights
- Restoration of the right to bear arms (only for those pardoned of a nonviolent offense)
- The ability to apply for some professional licenses
- The ability to serve jury duty
It is important to note that while a pardon can restore many rights and privileges, the scope of these benefits is limited. A pardon will not resort the right to inherit property from a victim or remove a person from the sex offender registration.
Do You Need a Lawyer to Get a Pardon?
Requesting a pardon is a multi-step process that requires methodical attention to detail and some knowledge of the legal system. You should not attempt to request a pardon without the help of an attorney.
A lawyer can help to ensure that the application is filled out correctly, demonstrate how conviction negatively impacted the petitioner’s life, and highlight the positive influences and potential for reassimilation into society.
Attorneys have in-depth knowledge of the legal system and can offer timely advice and support throughout the process. If you are seeking a pardon, contact a lawyer.
Your Guide Through the Pardon Process
Nichols Dixon PLLC has successfully helped countless clients pursue a criminal pardon. Our team of qualified legal professionals has the knowledge and experience you need to apply for a pardon and advocate for your interests to the Parole Board and the governor.Contact our firm today for more information.