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Pardons and Expunctions

Article by Michael Enfield

Although the two may at first seem similar, there are significant differences between expunction and pardoning. Both work as important legal tools to lessen the degree of a penalty, either during or after the fact. Additionally, both of these methods may allow a convicted individual to go on with their life, carrying less of a burden from their criminal past.

Between the two, a pardon is notably more difficult to obtain and provides a more direct method for a convicted person to go free. Most states in the United States permit governors the ability to pardon a convicted criminal found guilty of a state crime, which mirrors the President’s powers to pardon anyone convicted of a federal crime. Accordingly, state governors can offer various forms of pardons and reprieves. This may range from a full pardon, which allows the individual to go free while keeping the charge on their record, to a simple remission of any fees or fines.

Expunction on the other hand is often used as a process a person may work through to remove particular charges from their criminal record. After completing their sentencing, an individual can then request an expunction. Depending on the state standards, there may be various other sealing or non-disclosure acts tied to this process. Eventually, that person will have their criminal record struck clean of that crime.

Expunctions are particularly useful for those trying to rebuild their professional and personal life after a criminal conviction. In particular, DUI and BUI charges may hold an especially strong social stigma. With these charges, the law essentially acknowledges that the guilty individual’s debt to society has been paid. For this reason, certain crimes may not be eligible for expunction, as they may be considered too serious for legal forgiveness.

If you have worked through your sentencing and are considering filing for expunction, contact the Seattle DUI attorneys of Cowan Kirk Gaston Law Firm today.

About the Author

Michael Enfield is a Texas-based author.

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