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How Pardons Work in Texas

Parole Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

How Pardons Work in Texas

You have probably heard of someone asking the governor for a pardon, and it may seem like a simple thing to do. However, like other states and at the federal level, pardoning in Texas is a complex process. Also, a pardon might not mean what you think it means. 

Eligibility for Pardon

The Board of Pardons and Paroles controls the process. The Board can recommend an individual for a pardon, or the governor can ask the Board to review an individual’s record to learn if a pardon is appropriate.

How do you become eligible for a pardon? It depends on the type of pardon you seek.

Full Pardon

A full pardon is available if you have successfully completed a term of deferred adjudication community supervision for a felony, misdemeanor, or traffic offense conviction.

The pardon releases you from the conditions of your sentence for that specific conviction and restores fundamental citizenship rights, including:

  • Voting 
  • Serving on a jury
  • Holding public office
  • Being an executor or administrator of an estate

A person receiving a pardon is entitled to request and receive an expunction of all related arrest records pertaining to the pardoned conviction. However, the individual must initiate the request to expunge the records.

A full pardon cannot be considered while an offender is still in prison except under limited circumstances.

Also, any restoration of employment or professional licensing is at the discretion of the related state licensing board and employer.

Conditional Pardon

A conditional pardon releases you from the conditions of your sentence for that specific conviction. However, you still remain subject to the conditions of your release. A conditional pardon doesn’t restore any rights lost due to that conviction. 

A conditional pardon is only available after minimum statutory parole eligibility is attained. The governor can revoke the pardon if you don’t comply with the conditions of your release.

The Board considers conditional pardons to release an inmate to another country or under extreme, unusual, and exceptional circumstances. 

Pardons Based on Innocence

If you receive a pardon because evidence is presented that shows you to be innocent, you are forgiven for the crime and released from further punishment. The pardon declares you innocent of the crime, exonerating you, which essentially erases your conviction.

You must be convicted of a Texas state felony to be eligible for a pardon based on innocence. Even if you are convicted of human trafficking, you are still eligible to request a pardon under the same circumstances as others charged or convicted of a crime.

Posthumous Pardon

A person acting on behalf of a deceased person convicted of a crime can apply for a posthumous conviction. It equates to a full pardon, although the individual won’t be around to exercise any rights. It can bring peace to the family to say a loved one was pardoned.

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How to Apply for a Pardon

Obtain a pardon application for the type of pardon you want and qualify for. You can call the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles at 512-406-5852 or send a written request to the General Counsel’s Office at 8610 Shoal Creek Blvd in Austin. Also, you can obtain a form online.

You also need to obtain certified court documents from the court that heard your case and a copy of your criminal history records from the Texas Department of Public Safety. Add a personal statement and request letters of recommendation. Submit the Pardon Application packet to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, General Counsel’s Office.

If the Board does not recommend you for a pardon, there is no appeal process. You can re-apply for a full pardon or restoration of your civil rights two years after the Board’s decision. You submit a Pardon Packet just as though it is your initial request.

If you receive a pardon and want a copy of the proclamation, apply to the Secretary of State, Registrations Unit Statutory Document Section in Austin.

A Pardon Doesn’t Clear Your Criminal Record

While a full pardon can restore most civil rights, it doesn’t automatically expunge your criminal record. If you want the crime for which you were pardoned to be taken off your record, you must apply to do so

Remember, you have a criminal record whether or not the courts convict you. The following goes into the formation of your criminal record: 

  • You were investigated for a crime.
  • You were arrested but later had the charges dropped.
  • A judge dismissed criminal charges against you.
  • A jury acquitted you of a crime.
  • You received a pardon from the governor.
  • You won an appeal.

Unfortunately, even if law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, and juries absolve you entirely of a crime, you still have a criminal record, even if you are acquitted. You need a legal strategy for sealing, expunging, or gaining an order of nondisclosure to keep most people from seeing your record.

However, receiving a pardon, even if it doesn’t clear your record, can restore civil rights and show a future employer that, even though you were charged with a crime and perhaps even served time for a conviction, the Board found you eligible for clemency.

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Why You Need an Attorney

An experienced criminal attorney can help you make your pardon application as well as request to expunge your record. If you want your records sealed or under non-disclosure, your attorney can handle that as well. 

The Office of Greg Tsioros can advise you on applying for a pardon, including the type of pardon you qualify for. We can also help you with records expunction, sealing, or nondisclosure. 

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