What is a pardon in North Carolina?
A pardon is an official statement issued by the Governor that attaches to a criminal record and states that the State of North Carolina has pardoned a crime.
How does a pardon differ from an expungement?
Unlike an expungement which actually removes charges/convictions from your criminal record, a pardon does NOT remove any entries from your criminal record—it is an addition to your criminal record. However, a person who is granted a pardon may thereby become eligible for expungement, depending upon the type of pardon granted.
Furthermore, whether an individual is granted an expungement is determined by whether or not they qualify under the North Carolina General Statutes for that expungement. A pardon, on the other hand, has no statutory basis, which means that there is absolutely NO guarantee that an applicant will be granted a pardon. A pardon will ONLY be granted if the Governor sees fit to grant it.
As you may imagine, there are an infinite number of factors that may affect the probability of a pardon application being granted. You should also note that, based on historical data, the chances of the Governor granting a pardon in North Carolina is rather low.
Am I eligible to apply for a pardon?
To be eligible to make application for a pardon, a person must have maintained a good reputation in their community since the completion of their sentence for a criminal offense. The applicant must also wait until five years have elapsed since they have been released from State supervision, which includes probation and parole.
How many types of pardons exist in North Carolina?
The there are three types of pardons in North Carolina: pardons of forgiveness, pardons of innocence, and unconditional pardons.
A pardon of forgiveness is the most frequently requested pardon. If granted, this pardon states that the applicant has been “pardoned and forgiven of their criminal conviction.” Certain conditions may be placed upon the recipient of the pardon.
A pardon of innocence is granted where an individual has been convicted of a crime but is later determined to be innocent. If granted, the applicant may seek compensation from the State of North Carolina under N.C.G.S. § 148-82 for pecuniary loss sustained as a result of their erroneous conviction and imprisonment, so long as the petition is made within five years of the granting of the pardon.
An unconditional pardon is granted to restore a persons' firearm rights and does not have any conditions or restrictions.