Q: I just learned that I cannot ask the court to seal my convictions because I have more than one. Do I have any other options?
A: Yes. You may seek a pardon from the governor of the state of Ohio.
Q: What is a pardon?
A: A pardon is one type of executive clemency that the governor of the state of Ohio has the power to grant. A pardon forgives your crime, but it is not a “sealing” remedy. The pardoned conviction is still available for the public to view.
Q: How do I apply for a pardon?
You may obtain an application and instructions from the Department of Correction website: www.drc.ohio.gov/clemency
, or by writing to the Ohio Parole Board, Clemency Section, 1050 Freeway Drive North, Columbus, Ohio 43229.
Q: What information do I need to complete the application?
A: You must answer every question on the application. Pay close attention to questions 10 and 11. Be sure to check one of the boxes in question 11. In addition, you should attach a separate letter to your application. The letter should explain the circumstances of your convictions and what you have done since your convictions to change your life. For question 12, you should send as many letters of support as you can collect. You must also send information about the convictions you are asking the governor to pardon. For misdemeanor convictions, you must include the court complaint and the sentencing entry. For felony convictions, you must send the indictment and sentencing entry.
Q: What happens after I return my completed application to the Ohio Parole Board?
A: The Parole Board investigates all clemency cases for the governor. It will conduct an investigation in your case. Once it concludes its investigation, the Parole Board will make a recommendation to the governor either for or against the pardon.
Q: Will I be contacted by the Parole Board during the investigation?
A: Maybe. The Parole Board makes its decision based upon your submitted application. The Parole Board investigator may contact you by telephone to schedule an interview or the investigator may come to your home to speak with you. The Parole Board may ask you to come to your local parole office for an interview. When the Parole Board finishes its investigation of your application, it may also ask you to appear at a hearing to discuss your application. You should attend this hearing.
Q: Will anyone else be contacted as part of the investigation?
A: Yes. The Parole Board will contact the prosecuting attorney and judge who were involved in your case to ask the prosecuting attorney and judge if they believe the governor should pardon you. In addition, the Parole Board may contact the victim of your crime.
Q: Will I be notified of the Parole Board’s recommendation?
A: The Parole Board will send you a notice containing its recommendation.
Q: How long will the process take once I have applied for a pardon?
A: It will take at least six to eight months, and possibly longer.
Q: What happens if the governor grants the pardon?
A: If the governor grants you a full pardon, the governor will send you a copy of the “warrant of pardon.” The law also requires the warrant of pardon to be filed with the court where you were convicted. The governor also may grant you a conditional pardon requiring you to do certain things before the pardon is effective. For example, the governor may require you to pay any fines or costs that you still owe on the case.
This "Law You Can Use"consumer legal information column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was prepared by Prof. Joann Sahl of the University of Akron School of Law.