A pardon letter is a letter written by someone who was convicted of a crime to ask the government as a sign of forgiveness for the crime. The United States Department of Justice has guidelines for how to write a pardon for a non-military, federal crime. A person who has been convicted of a federal crime needs to follow their guidelines about how to write a pardon letter.
A pardon is not a reversal of the conviction. A person who was convicted of a federal crime may petition for a Presidential pardon after five years has passed since their sentence was served. Some people may wonder why someone would want a pardon if they have already served their time and the pardon does not proclaim their innocence.
Pardons are granted to people who have demonstrated their ability and drive to lead productive lives who are hindered from pursuing their goals by their criminal record. The person seeking a pardon must fill out a petition for pardon and supply the relevant documentation. For example, part of the petition asks for the specific reason that a pardon is necessary. If the person is seeking a pardon in order to acquire a professional license or join a professional organization, the person should include any documentation to show the need for the pardon.
A person requesting a presidential pardon must show evidence that they are now living responsible, productive lives. The person must disclose their debts and delinquent credit obligations. The person may include information to explain the debts or the repayment plan for those debts. Unpaid tax obligations must be disclosed and may be explained. At least three character affidavits must be submitted with the petition for pardon.
If the person is seeking pardon for a state offense, the person must contact the governor of the state where the conviction occurred or the board of paroles and pardons. Petitions for pardons for court-martial convictions must be submitted to the branch of the military that issued the court-martial. For example, someone guilty of an Air Force court martial would send their petition to the Secretary of the Air Force.
When a person receives a pardon, the pardon does not clear their criminal record. The person must continue to disclose their criminal history on any forms requesting this information. However, the pardon may help ease some of the stigma attached to the criminal history and make it easier for the person to obtain their goal that was the reason for the petition for pardon.