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Residents of Shelby County who received a criminal conviction and served the required sentence—whether it included probation or incarceration—may not be aware that in many cases they could apply to have their criminal convictions pardoned.

A pardon could restore legal rights such as the right to vote or the right to own a gun. It may also make it easier to obtain employment, housing, and credit. However, the process of applying for a pardon can be confusing and more importantly, not everyone is eligible.

A Shelby County pardons lawyer can explain the process that applies to your particular situation. An experienced attorney could ensure that appropriate paperwork is filed, prepare you for a formal hearing, and advocate on your behalf at all meetings, hearings, and other proceedings in pursuit of an optimal outcome.

Difference Between a Pardon and Expungement

In theory, an expungement erases a criminal record as if the incident never occurred. In practice, though, an expungement does not entirely erase a criminal record because the records are still stored in the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center and can be accessed by law enforcement officials under certain circumstances.

While an expungement may be preferable to a pardon, obtaining a pardon does offer many benefits. First and foremost, in cases where the state convicts someone of a criminal offense, that person may be eligible for a pardon but not an expungement.

Furthermore, a pardon shows that the state has forgiven the incident—in other words, the state believes the individual involved to be rehabilitated. This could create a more favorable disposition from potential employers, landlords, and bankers. Those who obtain a pardon can also have important rights restored, such as the right to vote.

Determining Eligibility for a Pardon

Code of Alabama §15-22-36(c) specifies that a convicted person must complete at least three years of parole—or the full sentence if it was for less than three years—in order to receive a pardon unless the pardon is being granted based on that person’s innocence.

Those convicted of violations of federal laws or violations of other states’ laws are eligible to receive a pardon in Alabama. The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles may grant either a full pardon or a restricted pardon. While a full pardon restores all the individual’s rights, a restricted pardon might include a restriction on firearm possession or require sex offender registration.

Pardon Process

Someone seeking to obtain a pardon in Alabama must first file an application with the local parole office. Then a local parole officer instigates an investigation, usually covering information such as the individual’s employment status, living situation, arrest record, and references. The investigation must be completed and a report must be filed before the request for a pardon can proceed to a hearing.

At the hearing, the Board of Pardons and Parole votes on the application. These proceedings are made public, including each board member’s stated reason for voting for or against the request for a pardon. If someone is planning on filing an application for a pardon, it is wise for them to seek the services of a pardons lawyer in Shelby County.

How a Shelby County Pardons Attorney Could Help

The procedures for requesting a pardon vary depending on the type of conviction involved. Regardless of the specific scenario, it is important to ensure that paperwork is completed properly and that references and statements convey the appropriate information.

A lawyer experienced with pardon applications could be helpful with these tasks, but assistance from knowledgeable legal counsel could be most valuable when it comes time to prepare for a hearing before the Board of Pardons and Parole.

A seasoned Shelby County pardons lawyer could ensure you take the correct steps to secure your rights and your future. Call today for a free consultation to learn how a criminal pardons attorney could help you.