Pardon – an order granted to those individuals who have maintained a good reputation in their community, following the completion of their sentence for a criminal offense. A Pardon is an official statement attached to the criminal record that states that the State of Georgia has pardoned the crime. It does not expunge, remove or erase the crime from your record. The applicant must wait until at least five years have elapsed since the applicant was released from supervision (including probation and/or parole).
Restoration of Rights – an order restoring the rights which are lost in Georgia upon conviction. These include the right to run for and hold public office, and to serve as a Notary Public. Restoration of rights does not include the right to possess, own or to carry a concealed firearm. The right to vote is automatically restored upon completion of your sentence.
What is the difference between a restoration of rights and a pardon? Restoration of civil rights, if granted, will fully restore citizenship. It removes all civil disabilities and disqualifications imposed as a result of a felony conviction. These rights include the right to run for and hold public office, to serve on juries, and to serve as a Notary Public. A pardon is an act of official forgiveness and is granted only in exceptional cases. It may serve as a means for the petitioner to advance in employment or education. A pardon does not expunge (remove) an offense from your record.
Requesting a pardon for a Federal sentence – To request a pardon from the Federal government, information and form can be obtained from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Pardon Attorney website: http://www.usdoj.gov/pardon
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need an attorney to apply? No, you do not need an attorney to apply for a pardon or a restoration of rights.
Is there an application fee? No, there is not an application fee.
How long does it take to for my application to be processed? The entire process can be lengthy since all information you provide to us must be investigated. On average, processing an application takes approximately nine to twelve months and may take longer if you have convictions in multiple counties and/or other states.
What is a pardon and what does it do? A Pardon is an official statement attached to the criminal record that states that the State of Georgia has pardoned the crime. It “forgives” but does not “forget.” A pardon does not overturn a judgment of conviction. It does not erase the fact that a person was once convicted of a crime. It does not relieve a convicted sex offender of the requirement to register on the Sex Offender Registry.
When am I eligible to apply for a pardon? You must have completed all sentences imposed upon you at least five (5) years prior to applying and have lived a law-abiding life since the completion of your sentences. You can have no pending charges against you. Your fines must be paid in full.
Will my record be cleared? No, a pardon does not remove, expunge, or clear the conviction from your criminal record.
If I receive a pardon, and then I am asked by an employer or future employer whether I have been convicted of a crime, do I answer “no” since I received a pardon? You must answer “yes” to your employer or future employer. Explain that you have received a pardon and provide a copy of your pardon paperwork.
I was convicted of a sex offense and I was pardoned. Do I still have to register on the Sex Offender Registry? Yes, even if you received a pardon, you must continue to register on the Sex Offender Registry for 10 years after the termination (end) of your sentence.
What is a restoration of rights? A restoration of rights is an order restoring the rights which are lost in Georgia upon conviction of a crime. These include the right to run for and hold public office, to sit on a jury, and to serve as a Notary Public. Restoration of rights does not include the right to possess, own or to carry a concealed firearm.
When am I eligible to apply for a restoration of rights? You must have completed all sentences imposed upon you. You must currently live in Georgia if you were convicted in another state. You must have completed all sentences imposed upon you at least two (2) years prior to applying, and you must have lived a law-abiding life since the termination of your sentence(s).
Is a restoration of rights a separate process from a restoration of firearms rights? Yes, these are different processes. If you would like to have your firearms rights restored, you must check the line on the application for “Restoration of the Right to Receive, Possess or Transport in Commerce a Firearm.”
Can I bow-hunt even if I do not receive a pardon or restoration of rights? Yes, you may bow-hunt without a pardon or restoration of rights.
Is a muzzle loader considered a firearm? Yes, a muzzle loader is considered a firearm.
Do I have to apply with the Parole Board to restore my right to vote? No, you do not have to apply to restore your right to vote. Your right to vote is automatically restored upon termination of your sentence. However, you must re-register with your local county registrar’s office in your county of residence. To find your local registrar’s office, visit this site: http://sos.georgia.gov/elections/elections/voter_information/2000_voter_info.asp
Do I need to apply with the Parole Board to restore my right to sit on a jury? Yes, you must apply for a restoration of rights in order to sit on a jury.
What is a Record Restriction?
O.C.G.A. § 35-3-37(d) (1) allows for the restriction of arrest charges when certain conditions are met (as outlined in this statute). If approved by an appropriate prosecutor, the arrest cycle is sealed on the Georgia criminal history report by GCIC. Access to that arrest information is restricted to criminal justice agencies only.
The following are examples of final court dispositions that may qualify:
• Nolle Prossed • Sentenced under 16-13-2(sentence completed)
• Not Guilty/Acquitted • Pre-Trial Diversion (sentence completed)
• No Further Action Anticipated • Conditional Discharge (sentence completed)
• Dismissed • Not forwarded for prosecution
• No Bill (two required) • Not Presented to Grand Jury
• Dead Docket • Drug or Mental Health Program (sentence completed)
It is recommended that you review a copy of your criminal history, prior to submitting the Request to Restrict Record, to ensure that all charges have a final disposition listed and the disposition may qualify for restriction. If a disposition is missing or incorrect, please contact the appropriate court; the court may transmit the disposition on-line.
Effective July 1, 2013 the procedures for having records restricted is:
If your arrest date is prior to July 1, 2013, then you must complete the first page of the GCIC Record Restriction form attached. It must be turned into the Dade County Sheriff’s Office reception area Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:00AM and 5:00 PM (excluding holidays) along with the required fee of $20.00 payable by money order, cashier’s check or cash. You will be notified once the packet has been completed. Once you pick the paperwork up, you will be required to mail them along with a $25.00 money order to the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC).
Restrict Arrest Record Instructions and Request
If your arrest date is July 1, 2013 or later, you will need to contact the prosecuting attorney’s office or state solicitor’s office that handled the case. If approved, the prosecuting attorney’s office or state solicitor’s office shall restrict the record through the Georgia Crime Information Center System.
Once the record has been restricted, you will receive notification that the process has been completed. The process could take up to 6 weeks to complete.