Crime and Traffic

Ohio's expedited pardon program

If you are convicted of a crime the legal consequences can impact you for the rest of your life. A pardon can help remove these consequences. Learn how the Ohio Governor’s Expedited Pardon Project can streamline applying for a pardon in some cases.

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Understanding the Basics

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If you are convicted of a crime the legal consequences can impact you for the rest of your life. A pardon can help remove these consequences.

What is a pardon? 

A pardon under Ohio law is the remission of penalty by the Governor. A pardon is an act of executive forgiveness and it removes some or all of the legal punishment for a crime and from all continuing consequences.  

Benefits of a pardon

A pardon may benefit you. It can:

  • Help you get a job
  • Seal your records
  • Restore your ability to act as a juror
  • Restore your ability to hold public office
  • Restore your ability to legally possess a firearm
  • Restore your ability to volunteer in certain settings
  • Affirm the positive changes you have made in your life

In some circumstances, a pardon may not automatically seal your records. Read more to learn about record sealing in Ohio.

Who is eligible to apply for an expedited pardon?

To be eligible to apply for an expedited pardon, you must have:

  • No new felony and misdemeanor criminal convictions in the last ten years.
  • No convictions for prohibited offenses including murder, attempted murder, rape, kidnapping, and domestic violence. Read the full list of prohibited offenses here.
  • Finished all the requirements of your sentence or sentences at least 10 years ago.
  • Made a good faith effort to pay all court-ordered restitution and court costs before applying.
  • At least five years of recent work history, or a compelling reason why you were not employed.
  • Experience with non-court ordered community service or volunteering, or other demonstration of how you have given back to your community in the past 10 years.

How to apply for an expedited pardon

To apply for an expedited pardon:

  • Visit the pardon website. Start your application here.
  • Download and complete the intake packet.
  • Submit your documents. 
    Send via the U.S. Postal Service, to: 
    University of Akron School of Law Legal Clinic - Expedited Pardon Project 
    150 University Avenue 
    Akron, OH 44325-2901

Be sure to keep copies of all of your documents for your records.

If you have questions about your application, email [email protected].

After you apply

The project team will reply within two weeks of receiving a pardon application. The reply may be:

  • An acceptance to finish the application. If you meet the criteria, you will get instructions to finish the full application. Your full application will include materials like lists of police reports for all of your offenses, employment records, reference letters and other written statements. Be sure to include all required information and to submit your materials on time.
  • A request for more information. If your first application (the intake packet) is incomplete, you will get a request for the missing information. Be sure to follow instructions and submit the requested materials on time.
  • A rejection of the application. If you do not meet the criteria, you will get a project rejection. You can still apply for traditional clemency with the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.

More options

There are other ways under Ohio law to limit consequences of criminal convictions. In Ohio, some criminal records can be sealed. You may also be able to get a Certification of Qualification for Employment (CQE), which helps remove employment-related barriers that keep people with certain convictions from working in certain jobs.

Legal aid may be able to help you with record sealing or CQEs. Go to “Legal Help and Lawyers” to find legal aid in your area.

Whether or not you choose to seek a pardon, you should explore whether you are eligible to have your record sealed or if you are eligible to receive a CQE. If you receive a conditional pardon instead of a full pardon in Ohio, you may not be eligible to have your court records automatically sealed.

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