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Atty. Ralph D. Sherman

130 West Main Street • New Britain, Connecticut 06052

tel. (860) 229-0213 • fax (860) 229-0235 • e-mail


Legal Opinion

June 1997

You may need a pardon

So you had a pistol permit for 20 years. You were perfectly eligible for a permit, because you had no felony convictions. True, in 1977, when you were 19, you were in a scuffle in a bar, and you pleaded guilty to third-degree assault, a misdemeanor. But that never affected your pistol permit.

Until 1994, when the law was changed.

Now third-degree assault is one of 11 misdemeanors that disqualify people for pistol permits. If you have a conviction for one of these misdemeanors, and your permit has been revoked or denied, what can you do?

The first thing is to contact your state legislators. A bill has been proposed that would limit the disqualification period to five years after the conviction. The bill needs more support from legislators, which means more voters need to make phone calls and write letters.

The second thing is to consider petitioning for a pardon. If your conviction is at least five years old, you may have a good case.

Do you need an attorney to petition for a pardon? Well, the law says you can represent yourself, the same as in court. On the other hand, many people fail at representing themselves, both in court and before the Board of Pardons.

No wonder. The pardon petition is a very complicated set of documents. I would say it is more difficult to prepare than a long 1040 tax return with many attachments.

When you hire an attorney for a pardon, you get the advantage of his experience preparing the documents and making a case before the Board. If the pardon is important to you, then it’s unwise to go it alone.

If you get your pardon, you will attain other benefits besides eligibility for a pistol permit. If you have any kind of conviction on your record, you may have to provide an explanation every time you apply for a job. Many professional licenses, including insurance and law, are more difficult to obtain if you have a conviction. A pardon removes these obstacles by giving you a clean record.

The fee for a pardon petition depends on the attorney. The Board of Pardons charges no fee. My fee varies from case to case. Most of the fee pays for my time interviewing the client, talking to references, and preparing the documents; the hearing before the Board usually is brief. Other attorneys may have different charges.

Can anyone get a pardon? No. And the law forbids an attorney from making any guarantee. But I don’t accept a pardon case unless I believe the client has a good chance and really deserves the pardon.

Next month, I’ll discuss staying out of trouble with your pistol permit.

Copyright 1997 by Ralph D. Sherman

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