Why You'll Need A Pardon Lawyer

Why You'll Need A Pardon Lawyer

Pardons have dominated the news recently, and they remain controversial despite their long history. Based on the English common law principle of “the prerogative of mercy”, the framers invested the President with the power to “grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.”

George Washington issued the first presidential pardon in 1795, forgiving two protestors who had been sentenced to death, just six years after the constitution established the power and decades before any US court would hear a criminal appeal.

More recently, Barack Obama pardoned several Oklahomans for charges ranging from distribution of drugs to embezzlement, and Donald Trump pardoned an Oklahoman soldier convicted of killing an Iraqi prisoner.

When Oklahoma became a state, they followed the federal model and gave the governor the power to grant pardons for state crimes. In Oklahoma, A pardon is essentially an act of forgiveness: it means the governor grants you relief from the legal consequences of your crime. It doesn’t declare you innocent, but it does restore your civil rights, including the right to vote and own a firearm.

Pardons are a powerful tool available to offenders in Oklahoma. But they’re not easy to get. Retaining a pardon lawyer in Tulsa and familiarizing yourself with the law can help.

Am I eligible for a pardon in Oklahoma?

To be considered for a pardon in Oklahoma, you must meet a few conditions:

  • You’ve been convicted of a felony, misdemeanor, or “crime of moral turpitude” in the state of Oklahoma.
  • You’ve completed your entire sentence, including parole and probation, or you’ve been on parole or probation for five years without incident.
  • You’ve paid all of your debts, including court costs, restitution, and fines.
  • You’re not currently in prison or jail.
  • You don’t have any new charges or warrants against you, and you don’t owe any taxes or child support.
  • You have not already been considered for a pardon in the past three years.

A lawyer can help you determine if you’re eligible in the first place—and how much of a chance you might have.

What are the chances of getting a pardon in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma has an excellent record of pardons, so your chances may be good. The Restoration of Rights Project, which provides state-by-state analysis of pardons and expungements, classifies Oklahoma in the top rankings of states that grant the most pardons, with a “significant percentage of pardons granted.”

Recent governors of Oklahoma have kept up this reputation. Brad Henry granted 530 pardons from 2003 to 2011, Mary Fallin granted 734 from 2011 to 2019, and Kevin Stitt, the current governor, granted 290 pardons in 2019 alone, his first year in office. Governor Stitt has made reducing the Oklahoma prison population a priority, so now is the ideal time to take action on your conviction.

How can you increase your chances of a pardon?

Oklahoma awards a lot of pardons—but by some estimates, still only about half of all pardon applications are actually granted. You can help increase your chances by:

  • Accepting responsibility: Your pardon application isn’t the place to protest your innocence. Accept responsibility for your crime and show how you have improved yourself since committing it.
  • Being honest: The Oklahoma Department of Corrections will do its own investigation into your application, so there’s no point in leaving out old arrests or charges. They’ll find them—yes, even out-of-state charges—and your application can be denied. You also need to report unpaid taxes, delinquent credit, and civil cases you’re involved in, including bankruptcy.
  • Submitting all required documents: A pardon application can be complicated. You’ll need to submit employment information, proof of residence, a credit report, and a certified judgment and sentence for your crime.
  • Providing references: Letters of support from people who are not related to you—like an employer, teacher, clergy member, or counselor—can show that you’ve improved yourself and have support in the community.
  • Staying out of trouble: If you’ve been charged with a new crime that hasn’t gone to trial yet, regardless of your guilt or innocence, it doesn’t look good.

Why do you need a pardon lawyer?

While the process of how to get a pardon in Oklahoma seems cut and dry, a Tulsa pardon attorney can:

  • Determine if you’re eligible to ask for a pardon and how strong your case is.
  • Help you complete the complicated pardon application process.
  • Represent you at your pardon hearing. Only one person can talk at a hearing, and your lawyer will be able to present the best possible argument.

The Bottom Line

Although Oklahoma is friendly to pardons, governors still typically only grant about half of pardon requests. Completing your application persuasively and making a good argument at your hearing can go a long way toward earning a pardon. That’s where a pardon lawyer comes in. Contact Us today for a case evaluation, and we’ll help you make the most of your pardon opportunity.