What is a pardon?
A pardon serves to release a person from the entire punishment prescribed for an offense and from any continued consequences resulting from a conviction. A pardon is one of several clemency options available to the governor. Ohio law expressly states that a pardon “relieves the person to whom it is granted of all disabilities arising out of the conviction or convictions from which it is granted.” [Ohio Revised Code Section 2967.04] Pardons are granted by the Governor after a person submits what is called an “application for clemency.” Only Ohio convictions are eligible for a pardon in Ohio. Thanks to recent changes in Ohio law, the governor also may seal your pardoned offenses.
A pardon is granted in recognition of the applicant’s acceptance of responsibility for the offense committed and established good conduct for a substantial length of time after completing their sentence. A pardon is not a sign of exoneration and does not connote or establish innocence. For that reason, when considering the merits of a pardon petition, the Ohio Parole Board takes into account the petitioner’s remorse and acceptance of responsibility for the offense.
Anyone who has been convicted of a crime in Ohio can apply for clemency through the traditional process. To learn more about different forms of clemency and the traditional clemency process, please visit drc.ohio.gov/clemency.
The Ohio Governor’s Expedited Pardon Project has been developed to assist with pardon applications for certain persons with certain types of convictions who have completed their sentences and been without additional criminal difficulties for a decade or longer. Not all Ohio convictions are eligible for a pardon through the Ohio Governor’s Expedited Pardon Project; persons with the most serious of convictions must look to the traditional clemency process.
A pardon can benefit you in these and other important ways:
- it will improve your employment opportunities,
- it may restore your ability to serve as a juror,
- it restores your ability to hold public office,
- it restores your ability to legally possess a firearm,
- it restores your ability to volunteer in certain settings, and
- it affirms the positive changes you have made in your life.
Court Record Sealing and Other Remedies
There are other remedies under Ohio law to limit the consequences created by a past criminal conviction. Specifically, Ohio statutes provide for some criminal records to be sealed and for grants of a Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE). The eligibility provisions and legal process for these remedies is entirely distinct from the pardon process. Whether or not you choose to seek a pardon, you should explore whether you are eligible to have your record sealed or if you are eligible to receive a CQE.