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How to Get a Pardon in Illinois

How to Get a Pardon in Illinois

A pardon is an official act of forgiveness that removes the legal consequences of a criminal conviction. It is granted by the governor or the president, depending on the jurisdiction. In the state of Illinois, obtaining a pardon is a lengthy and complex process that requires careful preparation and submission of a pardon petition. This article will guide you through the steps involved in seeking a pardon in Illinois, as well as address some frequently asked questions.

Step 1: Determine Eligibility

Before beginning the pardon process, it is crucial to determine if you meet the eligibility criteria. In Illinois, you must have completed your sentence, including probation or parole, at least five years prior to applying for a pardon. Additionally, you cannot have any pending criminal charges or convictions, and you must demonstrate that you have been living a law-abiding life since the completion of your sentence.

Step 2: Gather Required Documents

To apply for a pardon in Illinois, you will need to gather several important documents. These may include court records, police reports, character references, proof of employment or education, and letters of support. It is essential to ensure that all documents are accurate, complete, and up-to-date.

Step 3: Complete the Pardon Petition

The next step is to complete the official pardon petition, which can be obtained from the Illinois Prisoner Review Board (PRB) website. The petition requires detailed information about your conviction, including the charges, the court where the conviction occurred, and the date of the conviction. It is essential to provide truthful and accurate information to avoid any delays or complications in the process. The petition will also require you to provide a detailed statement explaining why you believe you deserve a pardon.

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Step 4: Submit the Pardon Petition

Once the pardon petition is completed, it must be submitted to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board. The PRB will review the petition and conduct an investigation into your character and rehabilitation. They may also consider input from victims, law enforcement officials, and other relevant parties. It is important to note that the PRB has the discretion to grant or deny a pardon, regardless of the strength of your application.

Step 5: Attend a Hearing

If the PRB determines that your case warrants further consideration, you may be invited to attend a hearing where you can present your case in person. During the hearing, you will have the opportunity to address the board, answer any questions they may have, and provide additional evidence or testimony to support your petition.


Q: How long does the pardon process take in Illinois?

A: The pardon process in Illinois can be lengthy, often taking several years to complete. It involves thorough investigation and evaluation by the PRB, as well as consideration by the governor. Patience and persistence are crucial throughout the process.

Q: Can I apply for a pardon if I have multiple convictions?

A: Yes, you can still apply for a pardon if you have multiple convictions. However, it is important to address each conviction individually in your petition and provide evidence of your rehabilitation and positive contributions since each conviction.

Q: Can I request a pardon for someone else?

A: No, you cannot apply for a pardon on behalf of someone else. Only the individual who was convicted can seek a pardon for their own case.

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Q: Will a pardon expunge my criminal record?

A: No, a pardon in Illinois does not automatically expunge your criminal record. However, if you receive a pardon, you may be eligible to file a petition for expungement or sealing of your criminal record.

Q: What are the chances of getting a pardon in Illinois?

A: The likelihood of receiving a pardon in Illinois can vary depending on the circumstances of your case and the discretion of the PRB and the governor. It is important to present a strong case that demonstrates your rehabilitation and positive contributions to society.

In conclusion, obtaining a pardon in Illinois is a complex and time-consuming process. It requires meeting eligibility criteria, gathering required documents, completing a pardon petition, submitting it to the PRB, and potentially attending a hearing. It is important to approach the process with patience, honesty, and a strong case that demonstrates your rehabilitation and positive contributions since your conviction.

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