What I do
I handle more pardons than any other attorney in this state, and I have been doing pardons for 21 years (since 1995). At one session of the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Paroles, the board heard 55 cases; 13 of them were my clients. In many years I have represented 5 to 10 percent of the individuals who actually get a hearing with the Board.
Most other attorneys have no experience in this area of law. The Internet has several web sites of organizations or individuals who claim to "assist" clients with pardons, but these "assisters" CANNOT and DO NOT represent you to the Board; they are not licensed to practice law, and some appear to be outright frauds. Some of them hold public meetings or "seminars" about pardons; I never have and never will. I do not believe that a person who has an old criminal record should attend a group session and reveal their past to someone who is not even an attorney. (You should be aware that someone who is not an attorney may not be obligated to keep your information confidential. Every licensed attorney is required to take an oath by which they promise to keep all client information confidential. This oath can be enforced by a court. Everything I do is completely confidential, starting with our first phone conversation or e-mail, whether you hire me or not.)
Contrary to what many believe, a conviction in a Connecticut state court (for a felony or even a minor misdemeanor) does NOT go away by itself—not in 10 years, 20 years, or even 50 years. The only way to get it off your record is to get a pardon, which erases your record.
Many clients come to me because an old conviction is making it impossible to move ahead in their career or to change jobs, or to obtain some type of license needed for employment. This has become much more common since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; more and more employers are doing background checks. Many persons also find themselves unable to obtain a pistol permit, because of an old conviction for any of 11 particular misdemeanors. (For details on Public Act 94-1, please see my Legal Opinion column.)
Another problem since 9/11 is international travel—even you're only going to Canada. For example, I represented a man who recently married a Canadian woman. When they tried to visit her family in Ontario, he was stopped at the border and told he could not enter Canada—because of a minor conviction 30 years ago. Another client was a professional truck driver who drove a route between Connecticut and Quebec for many years, until after 9/11. Because of another old, minor conviction, he was turned back at the border. For him, clearing his record meant he could keep his job.
If you were convicted in a Connecticut state court, the only way to clear your record is through the Board of Pardons and Paroles (not the Governor). If your petition to the Board of Pardons and Paroles is granted, your record will be erased, and you may state under oath that you have never even been arrested.
If a pardon is important to you, then the procedure is not a do-it-yourself job. Many clients who come to me for pardons have tried previously on their own (or with some other attorney) and failed. (I once represented a client who previously represented himself and was denied FIVE times by the Board; I handled his case quite differently and got his pardon for him.) If the Board turns you down, you must wait at least one year before trying again. So it makes sense to be represented by an attorney who has experience with the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Paroles. Before you hire an attorney for a pardon, ask how many pardons they have done.
If you hire me to represent you in your pardon case, I do all the work. When I take my car to a shop for a tune-up, I do not expect the mechanic to send me to the store to buy spark plugs. Likewise, I do not send clients on errands; I handle all the work for you and your pardon. Many details can be difficult; for example, old criminal records from our legal system sometimes show conflicting or incomplete information. I have solved this type of problem many times over the years.
If you would like more information, please phone my office at (860) 229-0213 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.