Difference Between Expunction and a Pardon

mark lassiterA criminal record can be equated with the Sword of Damocles; you are always waiting for something bad to happen. It may never do, especially if your crime is not really considered a serious one. But you just never know when it will have a great impact, such as when voting, applying for that dream job or getting that ideal apartment. You want it to just go away, and think perhaps that a pardon is the way to go.

Most people think that a pardon is like the crime never happened, because the individual receiving it is usually absolved from some or all of the prescribed punishment. And quite literally, a pardon is forgiveness of a crime; however, that does not mean it is forgotten. In the US, a pardon is a power reserved for the President for federal crimes, and for state governors for state crimes, and is usually petitioned to correct a judicial error i.e. wrongful conviction. In most cases, a pardon is petitioned for serious crimes such as murder, and may take the form of a commutation of the sentence, an amnesty, a remission of fines, a conditional pardon, or a full pardon.  Some privileges i.e. the right to vote may be reinstated as a result. But even when a full pardon is granted, the record remains available to the public.

If your crime is not of a violent or sexual nature and you want your arrest or conviction record to go away, the best legal option you may have is that of expunction. Expunction is the sealing of criminal records so that it is no longer available for public inquiry. It’s still there, but no one can get a look at it save under specific circumstances. An expunction attorney will assess if your case is eligible for a petition, and explain to you what will happen if it is. Eligibility requirements and the process are different from state to state, so you need an attorney that is conversant with a particular state’s expunction laws. For instance, if you live in Texas, you may want to call a local Houston or Dallas expunction attorney.