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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

November 1998

Pardons revisited

Most people seem to know, as a matter of common sense, that a felony conviction will make a person ineligible for a pistol permit. In Connecticut, there are also 11 kinds of misdemeanor convictions that will block a pistol permit. There is also the federal law on "domestic-violence" convictions.

Recently a reader wrote and asked me to discuss options for persons who have any of these convictions. I have discussed the subject in previous columns, but when one reader writes me a letter, I assume there are at least a thousand more readers who have the same question. So here goes.

If you have been convicted of a crime in Connecticut, the only way you can erase the conviction from your record is to obtain a pardon from the Board of Pardons. The board consists of five unpaid appointees of the governor.

The board accepts petitions only twice a year, and there is no appeal from a board decision. If you are turned down, you must wait at least one year before trying again. And the board does not have to explain its reason for turning you down. All you get is a letter that says "denied."

A person can represent himself before the board. But most petitions are turned down, and many people regret having tried the "do-it-yourself" method. The fact is, a pardon petition is much more complicated than it appears, and most people - including most attorneys I've seen - do not understand the Board of Pardons or how it works.

I included attorneys in that last sentence because many of my "pardons" clients have already tried to obtain a pardon with another attorney. These clients come to me because of my experience; in the past few years I have brought more clients to the Board of Pardons than any other attorney in this state. I have seen many pardons cases in which other attorneys charged less than I do but apparently did practically nothing for the fee.

My clients want pardons for many reasons, including peace of mind, career advancement, various kinds of licenses, and restoration of civil rights, including rights pertaining to firearms. I cannot guarantee success, but I only take cases that I think have a decent chance.

One of the difficulties in pardons cases is that if you have more than one conviction, you must petition for a pardon of all your convictions. So it's all or nothing.

And the process is long. If a client hires me in December of 1998, and the board accepts his pardon petition for a hearing, then the hearing will be held in November 1999. If the pardon is granted, the pardon certificate will arrive in the early part of the year 2000.

If you get your pardon, the law says you may state under oath that you have never even been arrested. You do not have to explain that you were arrested, convicted, and pardoned. If a background check is done, the computer printout will say "no record found."

Anyone who wants a list of the 11 misdemeanors mentioned above should send me an e-mail.


Copyright 1998 by Ralph D. Sherman

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