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The Need for a Pardon

What is a Pardon? Am I Eligible?

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The Board of Pardons consists of five members—the Lieutenant Governor, who serves as Chairman, the Attorney General, and three members appointed by the Governor with the approval of the State Senate. The three appointed members include a corrections expert, a crime victims’ representative, and a doctor of medicine, psychiatrist or psychologist. The appointed members serve six-year terms.

Current members of the Board of Pardons are:

  • Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley, Chairman
  • Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane
  • Louise B. Williams, Victim Representative - term expires November 30, 2015
  • John P. Williams, M.D., Psychiatrist - term expires November 30, 2019
  • Harris Gubernick, Corrections Expert - term expires November 30, 2017


How Will a Pardon help Me?

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Suppose I Have Only Summary Offenses on My Record?


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  • New legislation has amended the existing expungement statute to allow a petition for expungement for any summary offense after the person has been free of arrest for five years following the summary conviction. If a person was convicted of a summary offense, he or she no longer has to go to the state pardon board. Instead, they can directly petition their local county court systems to clean up their criminal records.
  • The most common example of a summary offense is retail theft.
  • Expungement may also be available for persons (i) who have received and completed ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition), (ii) who have been convicted of certain alcohol offenses, or (iii) who are over 70 years old and have had no convictions in the last 10 years.
  • Expungement forms differ from county to county.



The video segments you are about to see provide general information about the law, not legal advice which is the application of the law to the specific circumstances of a particular individual. Although we have attempted to provide information that is accurate and useful, you should know that the law may differ from county to county and is subject to different interpretations. If you have a question about how the law applies to you, you are strongly advised to seek legal advice from a lawyer or an advocate authorized to provide legal assistance in Pennsylvania.

Q & A

All videos on this site feature Janet Ginzberg, Staff Attorney at Community Legal Services. BIO