How do Pardons Work?
Pardons are rarely granted. A “pardon” is an act of the Governor in which the Governor frees someone of guilt for a criminal act and relieves the grantee from any penalties of law for those acts. You may not request a pardon if you are currently in jail. Additionally, a pardon is not an expungement and does not remove your criminal record from public records.
Read the Law: Md. Code, Correctional Services § 7-101
The Governor uses the Maryland Parole Commission’s guidelines in determining whether or not to grant a pardon. The following summarizes the guidelines.
If you were convicted of a misdemeanor, you must have been crime-free for at least 5 years from the time of your sentencing or release from jail, parole, or probation, whichever occurred last.
If you were convicted of a felony and have been crime-free, the following wait times apply:
- 7 years - the Parole Commission may, at it's sole discretion, consider applications where only 7 years have elapsed.
- 10 years - if the felony was not a crime of violence and did not involve controlled dangerous substances
- 15 years - if the felony was a crime of violence or involved controlled dangerous substances, the Parole Commission may, at it's sole discretion, consider the application
- 20 years - if the felony was a crime of violence or involved controlled dangerous substances
The following factors are considered regarding your request for a pardon:
- The nature and circumstances of the crime
- The effect of a pardon on the victim and community
- The sentence given
- Your other anti-social behavior
- Your rehabilitation
- The reason for requesting a pardon
To apply for a pardon, or for more information, visit the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Service's website.