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How to Get a Pardon in Illinois

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Felons know how challenging it can be as they move forward in life with a felony on their record.

It seems like the conviction penalties follow them no matter what they do and affects all aspects of their life, from finding a job, to obtaining housing, continuing their education, or obtaining a loan.

For felons who believe they deserve forgiveness for their offense, a pardon may offer hope.

This blog post will cover the process of applying for a pardon in Illinois.

  • What is a Pardon?
  • Federal vs. State Pardon
  • Application Process in Illinois
  • Results of a Pardon in Illinois
  • Supporting the Felon after the Pardon Decision


What is a Pardon?

A pardon is a term for forgiving for a particular crime without actually clearing a felony record.

Felons who have a criminal conviction for which they believe the sentence was too harsh or not deserved given the circumstances can apply for a pardon.

Felons who feel they have paid their debt to society and are entitled to having any further possible punishments for their crime withdrawn may wish to consider petitioning the government for a pardon.

A pardon is a form of clemency.

While a pardon does not erase the conviction, it goes on the criminal record that they have been legally forgiven for the crime and the restrictions imposed on a felon no longer apply.

This will allow them to have their right to vote and hold public office restored.

They will also be allowed to own a firearm.

Nevertheless, their felony conviction will still be part of the public record and able to be viewed.

Their felony conviction must still be reported in any situation inquiring about prior criminal history.

Federal vs. State Pardon

A pardon may be a federal or a state pardon depending on whether it is a federal or state offense.

For a federal pardon, a petition will go to the President of the United States.

For a state crime in Illinois, the application will go to the governor for approval.

Application Process in Illinois

Consultation with an attorney is important in applying for a pardon.

In Illinois, any type of felony is eligible for a pardon.

Technically, felons can apply for a state pardon as soon as they are convicted with no mandatory waiting period.

Of course, it is much less likely they will receive a pardon at that point.

The longer the time that has elapsed since the conviction, the better the chances of getting a pardon approved.

In recent years in Illinois, statistics indicate that approximately 37% of pardon applications have been approved.

Felons convicted of a federal crime or a crime in a different state must contact either the federal government or the state in which the conviction was received.

Each application for a pardon is written in the form of a petition, which must be typed in the form of a narrative or essay.

The petition must include each of the following:

  • The name of the offense
  • The county of the conviction
  • The case number
  • The sentence received
  • The date of sentencing
  • How long they served in prison and the date of release
  • Whether they were convicted by a judge or a jury, or whether they pleaded guilty
  • If the case is being appealed (and its status)
  • The name in which they were convicted, social security number, state prison number, and date of any previous pardon application
  • A detailed account of the facts of the case (dates, places, and circumstances in their own words)
  • A complete criminal history, including arrests, charges, and convictions. Minor traffic violations do not have to be included.

They must write a complete account of their personal life history (Date and place of birth, education and employment history, marital status, and military service).

This section is the place to emphasize the positive things since their conviction (educational achievements, stable employment, marriage and children, community involvement, charitable work.

Also important is proof of rehabilitation and good character, future plans, and how a pardon would affect those plans.

Then, they must outline their reasons for applying for a pardon.

This is the section to clearly indicate how their conviction has negatively affected them and their family (Being denied housing, employment, etc.)

Also essential is how the conviction has prevented them from providing a living for their family.

If they are pursuing a career in which a pardon is necessary, they should explain this and submit documentation from an attorney, licensing board, or potential employer to this effect.

If they are wanting their gun rights restored, they must indicate the career that requires a firearm, need of a gun for hunting, or to protect their family.

For those who may be deported, how being separated from their family would affect them and their family is necessary.

Then the petition must include the statement, “I declare under penalty of perjury that all of the assertions made in this petition are complete, truthful, and accurate.”

All of this information is addressed to the governor of Illinois.

Results of a Pardon in Illinois

The result of a pardon in Illinois will not seal or expunge a felony.

After the pardon, expungement can be sought only if the terms of the pardon indicate that.

It will restore many civil rights.

Felons will then be able to own a firearm in some cases, serve on a jury, and be considered for appointment as a probation officer or state parole agent.

Those felons convicted of a felony using a dangerous weapon cannot receive firearms rights through a pardon unless those rights are specifically restored in the pardon.

Additionally, if felons are successful in obtaining a pardon, they will have the satisfaction of knowing their efforts at rehabilitation have been acknowledged.

This is a huge part of a positive outcome.

Supporting the Felon after the Pardon Decision

For families of felons who have achieved a pardon in Illinois, reinforce their efforts and the difficulty they faced in applying for and persisting with the lengthy pardon process.

If they can work hard enough to accomplish that, they can achieve so much more.

For families of felons who have been turned down for a pardon, continue to be there and be supportive.

If their pardon is turned down, felons must wait one year before they can reapply in Illinois.

Do not allow your loved one to get discouraged or give up.

They have lived with their criminal record and the consequences this long, and they can continue their quest for a better life even without a pardon.

Continue to encourage them to live life the right way and not return to their criminal behavior.

Don’t let them become one of the 2/3 who return to prison within the first two years following release.

So what do you think about this blog post about how to apply for a pardon in Illinois?

Have you or someone you applied for a pardon in Illinois?

What was that like and were they successful?

Please tell us in the comments below.

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