The pardon process in Connecticut has changed drastically in recent years. In the past, being granted a pardon meant going through a rigorous eligibility and application process with the Board of Parolees and Pardons. However, the Clean Slate Law, first signed in 2021 by Governor Ned Lamont, is finally implemented in the state. This law allows people to automatically have certain crimes pardoned without the necessity of going through the application and hearing process. You can learn more about the Clean Slate Law and how it might apply to you here.
The Clean Slate Law
The Clean Slate Law is something that has been in the works in Connecticut since 2021. There have been lengthy delays with the Act, but starting in 2024, it is officially in effect. In January 2024 alone, more than 80,000 Connecticut residents will have their criminal records wiped clean thanks to the Clean Slate Law.
The Clean Slate Law allows many people convicted of a crime in Connecticut to bypass the pardon application process and automatically receive a pardon. This is not an immediate process – a person must wait seven years after a misdemeanor conviction and 10 years after a felony conviction for the Clean Slate Law to go into effect. Most misdemeanors and lower-level felonies are eligible for an automatic pardon through the Clean Slate Law. This includes Class D and E felonies, as well as unclassified felonies and DUIs.
However, it is important to keep in mind that sex crime convictions and family violence convictions are not eligible for automatic erasure through the Clean Slate Law. In addition, for those convicted of a crime before January 2000, an official petition with the court must be filed in order to be considered for criminal history erasure.
Previous Avenues to a Connecticut Pardon
Before the Clean Slate Act, Connecticut residents had to apply for a pardon once they became eligible. Once waiting a mandatory period of 3-5 years since the time of conviction, a person could apply for a pardon. Other eligibility factors were also considered, such as if an applicant was currently on parole or probation, the applicant had a pending criminal case open, the person was in jail at the time of their application, or if the person had any nolle charges in the past 13 months. Any of these factors would make a person ineligible for the pardon application, and they would have to wait longer to apply.
If a person was eligible, they would have to go through a rigorous application process, gathering and presenting information such as:
- Reference letters.
- Police reports for any conviction in the past 10 years.
- A state criminal history report.
- A background investigation authorization that has been notarized.
- Copy of a current ID.
- Letters from a probation officer, if applicable.
- The pardon application form.
All of this information would be reviewed by the Board of Parolees and Pardons. An application could be denied outright by the board, or it could be accepted for a second round of consideration. In this second round, the applicant would have to appear at a pardon hearing before the board. Before Covid, these hearings happened in person, but post-Covid, they happen virtually.
Changes to the Pardon Process
If you are eligible for criminal history erasure under the Clean Slate Act, you can bypass all of the steps listed above. Instead, the crime that you were convicted of will automatically be erased from your criminal record in a period of 7-1o years. You may still have to go through the previously-used standard pardon application process in some situations, for example, if a crime you are convicted of is not eligible for erasure under the Clean Slate Act, but for many people, an automatic erasure is an option.
The Clean Slate Act has streamlined this conviction erasure process and made it easier for people convicted of a Connecticut crime to move on with their lives. This can help previous convicts get jobs, secure housing opportunities, and generally resume their lives as normal and put their criminal conviction behind them. A person no longer has to be defined by the mistakes from their past once they are approved an erasure of their criminal history.
Are You Eligible?
There are tremendous benefits from having your criminal history automatically erased through the Clean Slate Act. If you are not sure if you are eligible or if you should apply for a pardon, contact our office. We can review your situation and help you determine the best way for you to proceed. If you do need to apply for a pardon, we are here to help. We can help you gather documents and prepare you for your pardon hearing. We have helped over 750 have their pardons granted in the past. If you think that your criminal conviction should have been automatically erased, there is a process that you can go through to have this done. Alternatively, if your criminal conviction occurred before January 2000, there is also an application that you can submit to have the crime considered for erasure. We can help and have a 100% success rate with clean slate applications.