Indiana Pardon Information
The Indiana Constitution gives the Governor the power to “grant reprieves, commutations, and pardons, after conviction, for all offenses except treason and cases of impeachement.” The Governor can also remit fines and forfeitures. However, the Constitution gives the Legislature the power to regulate the manner in which the Governor can grant any of these types of clemency. A pardon is only one type of clemency.
The Legislature has created a body called the Indiana Parole Board, which has the power to make recommendations to the Governor on all pardon applications. The Board is made up of 5 members who are appointed by the Governor and who each serve a 4-year term. No more than 3 of the members can be from the same political party.
Because the focus of this site is on pardons, we will not discuss reprieves, commutations, remission of fines and forfeitures, parole, or any other types of clemency that may be available in Indiana. We will also do not discuss judicial alternatives such as record expungement, record sealing, setting aside or dismissal of convictions. You should talk to an attorney if you think any of these alternative options may be more appropriate for you.
Governors in Indiana have recently required a five-year waiting period after you have completed your sentence before you can apply for a pardon. During that five-year period, your record must show that you have been rehabilitated and are now are law-abiding citizen. However, this waiting period can vary from one Governor to the next. Obviously, if you are sentenced to death, you would not have the luxury of waiting five years; in such cases, the Governor would most likely consider your application at any time.
The rule of thumb is if you are unsure whether or not you are eligible to apply for a pardon, you should go ahead and apply. There is no harm in doing so.
The Governor can only pardon Indiana convictions.If you want a pardon for a federal conviction, you must do that through the United States Department of Justice, Office of the Pardon Attorney (see our page on this site on federal pardons). If you want to pardon for an out-of-state conviction, you should find the appropriate page on this site dealing with pardons in that particular state.
Unlike in many other states, the rate at which pardons are granted in Indiana is quite high. Most people who apply are granted. In 2012, approximately 200 applications were received. 45 pardons were granted and approximately 155 applications were denied. This, of course, does not mean you should be complacent and not present a compelling application.
Your chance of getting a pardon largely depends on your individual circumstances. Naturally, the older and less serious your conviction(s) are, and the more compelling your life story is, the higher your chance of getting a pardon. Your chance of getting a pardon can also depend on who is serving as Governor at the time your application is reviewed. Some Governors are more lenient than others in handing out pardons.
The Application Process
There are no fees to apply for a pardon in Indiana. All applications for a pardon in Indiana must first be filed with the Indiana Parole Board.  There is a standard form which the Board has created for clemency purposes; you must use this standardized form or your application could be rejected.
Unfortunately, as of this writing the Board has not made its clemency application form available on the Internet. Therefore, you must contact the Board directly 317-232-5673 or write to the following address and request the form be sent to you:
Indiana Parole Board
302 W. Washington St., Rm. E321
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2278
You might be able to find a sample Indiana clemency form on the internet. If so, we caution you to only use it as a preview. The sample may not be current. We highly suggest you contact the Board directly so that you can obtain the most current, official form. Using an outdated or unofficial form could cause your application to be rejected.
The form will be rather simple and self-explanatory. This is because it was created for the non-lawyer to use. At the top of the form, you will simply check off the box that says “pardon.” You should have all of your conviction information available, such as the date you were sentenced, what your sentence was, and where you were confined.
If you do not have sufficient information about a particular conviction, you should contact the law enforcement agency that was involved in the case and/or the court where you were convicted for that case. If you do not remember all of your convictions, you will need to obtain your criminal record to refresh your memory. You can do this by contacting the Indiana State Police, Central Repository, at (317) 234-2631, or logging onto its website at http://www.in.gov/isp/.
If you have convictions in other states, you can obtain a more comprehensive, nationwide criminal report for yourself from the FBI. You can find out how to do this by calling the FBI’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., at (202) 324-3000, or logging onto its website at http://www.fbi.gov. The FBI’s website also has a list of local FBI offices you can call.
In the alternative, you can contact the criminal history record repository (which keeps a record of all criminal activity in a state) in each state where you have convictions. Listed on Criminal History Record Repositories is a list of criminal history record repositories for all 50 states.
You will be required to seek the opinion of the trial judge and prosecutor who was involved in your conviction. There will be a section on the application form for them to fill in. You must get their opinions/statements before sending in your application. If the trial judge or prosecutor (or their successors in office) refuses to provide a statement/opinion, then you need to indicate this on the form together with the name and office of the person you contacted.
As part of its investigation, the Board may inquire into the opinion of the victim(s) of your crime as well as the opinion of members of the community where the crime occurred. The Board may also require a report on your medical, psychological, and psychiatric condition.
The Board will look into your entire criminal history, as well as your behavior while you were in jail, prison, probation, or parole. It may consider your education history, your age at the time of the offense, your employment history, your relationship to the victim, your economic history, your drug history, your maturity at the time of the hearing, the opinion of friends and family, and practically anything else the Board feels is relevant.
Above all, the Board will consider whether recommending you for a pardon would be in the best interests of society. You should be upfront and cooperative with the Board and its agents at all times.
Additionally, although not required, we highly suggest that you submit, on a separate sheet of paper, a detailed and genuine personal statement explaining why you need a pardon. Simply saying you want a clean criminal record again is not enough. Tell the Board/Governor how your conviction has negatively affected you and/or your family. For example, explain how you have been denied housing or employment opportunities because of your conviction, and how this has prevented you from providing your family and you an adequate standard of living.
If you are facing deportation because of a conviction, explain how being separated from your family will negatively affect you as well as them. If you are pursuing a career in a field that requires you to obtain a pardon, submit documents, letters, or other proof from a prospective employer, licensing agency, or attorney verifying this necessity. If you need to regain your gun rights, explain why you need this—for example, you are pursuing a career that requires the use of firearms, or you want to take part in your family hunting traditions, or you simply want to feel more secure and able to defend yourself and/or your family after a recent traumatic event.
Also indicate on your personal statement all the positive things that have occurred in your life—for example, educational achievements, stable employment, marriage and children, community involvement, charitable services or donations, law-abiding behavior, etc. Submit copies of your college transcript, high school diploma or GED, military certificates, marriage certificate, honors and awards, and other proof of your rehabilitation and good character. Explain what your future plans are and how a pardon would help or hinder those plans.
If you are eligible for a pardon, it will usually take about four months between the time the Board receives your petition and the time you are scheduled for a hearing where the Board considers your application. You will have the option of bringing up to three people to the hearing to testify for you. If so, you will be asked to indicate this on the application form.
If you choose to bring people to the hearing to testify for you (and we highly suggest you do), choose credible, upstanding members of your community who know about your character—such as your pastor, a past or present employer, or a teacher. Remember, whatever they say will be under oath. The hearing is an excellent opportunity for you to put a human face onto your application; it lets the Board not only see you in person but also the amount of support you have in your community.
You should also have individuals who know you well write letters of recommendation for you. It is better to choose individuals who are not related to you to avoid the appearance of bias. The writers should indicate in the letter in what capacity they know you and why they think you should be granted a pardon.
You will be notified of the place and time of the hearing. You should look your best at the hearing. Dress in the same way you would if you were going to court for a trial (this means, for men, a suit and tie). Again, bring credible witnesses to your hearing to speak out for you. The hearing will be a public hearing, which means anyone, including the victim(s), can attend.
After the hearing, the Board will make a recommendation to the Governor whether to grant or deny your application. The Governor then has the final say on whether or not you receive a pardon. Although the Governor is not bound by the Board’s recommendation, the Governor generally follows it.
You will be notified of the Governor’s decision. The process usually takes six to eight months to complete.
Indiana courts have said that if the Governor grants you a full pardon, the law treats you as though you were never convicted of the crime. Consequently, you are eligible to expunge your conviction once you have received a full, unconditional pardon from the Governor. However, this does not necessarily mean your arrest records can be expunged. The idea behind this is that a pardon “forgives but does not forget”; although the pardon gets rid of the conviction, it cannot get rid of the events that led up to the conviction.
Keep in mind that the pardon does not automatically expunge your conviction; the pardon simply makes you eligible for an expungement. You must still apply to the court where you were convicted to do this. This usually requires you to submit a formal petition or motion. You might want to get the help of an attorney knowledgeable about record expungements for this. It may even be possible to seal or expunge your conviction without first obtaining a pardon.
Once expunged, your conviction records will not be accessible by the general public, but may still be accessible by law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and courts. Again, talk to an attorney knowledgeable about record expungements.
If you were sentenced to death for your conviction, a pardon for that conviction would effectively put aside the death sentence. 
Your right to vote in Indiana is suspended while you are imprisoned (or in lawful detention of some kind) after having been convicted. However, this right is automatically restored once you are released. Your voting rights are not suspended while you are on probation, parole, subject to home detention, or placed in a community corrections program. In other words, unless you are still in prison a pardon is usually not necessary to vote.
Your right to serve on a jury is automatically restored once you have completed your sentence (including any parole).  Therefore, a pardon is also not necessary to be a juror if you are no longer serving your sentence.
You are disqualified from holding public office in Indiana if you have been convicted of a felony and certain misdemeanors (involving bribery, conflict of interest, official misconduct, etc.). Unlike the right to vote and to be a juror, a pardon is the only way to restore your right to hold public office.
A full pardon will restore your gun rights if fifteen years have passed between the time you committed the crime and the time you apply for a gun permit. However, if you committed what the law calls “offenses against the person” (murder, manslaughter, battery, etc.), a pardon will not restore your gun rights.
The Governor can grant you what is called a “conditional pardon,” which means that in order for you to restore your gun rights you must first apply with the Superintendent of State Police, who will grant you a gun permit if he determines that you are likely to handle handguns in a responsible, law-abiding manner. You can contact the Indiana State Police at (317) 232-8200 or log onto http://www.in.gov/isp/ for more information about this. It might be possible to have your gun rights restored without actually getting a pardon.
Under federal law, if you have received a pardon from any state, the pardoned conviction cannot be used by federal authorities to prosecute you for “unlawful possession of a firearm” under federal law, unless the pardon specifically says you cannot possess a gun. However, just because you cannot be prosecuted under federal law does not mean you cannot be prosecuted under state law. Some states have stricter gun laws than federal law. If regaining your gun rights is important to you, make sure you make you desire known during the application process.
In most cases, federal immigration authorities cannot rely solely on a conviction that has been subject to a pardon for the purpose of deporting you from the country. If immigration is not an issue for you, this benefit is obviously irrelevant.
You cannot be denied a business or occupational license (law, nursing, teaching, etc.) simply because you have a felony or misdemeanor conviction. If the licensing agency wants to consider your conviction, it must dig deeper into the facts that led to the conviction. However, if you were convicted of certain drug-related offenses, you can be denied a license on the basis of the conviction alone (that is, the licensing agency would not have to dig into the facts behind the conviction).
Unfortunately, Indiana does not have any laws forbidding private employers or landlords from considering your conviction records, even if the conviction has been pardoned. However, this problem can be cured by getting an expungement (see above).
If you are ever concerned that a conviction may be a problem when you apply for a job, housing, a trade or occupational license, you may want to send the employer, landlord, or licensing agency a copy of the pardon. Most employers and licensing agencies, and perhaps most landlords as well, will probably ignore your conviction if they know you have received a pardon. A pardon is, after all, a strong official statement from the highest executive officer of the state forgiving you of the crime and essentially declaring you a good person again.
If you are ever a witness in a future criminal proceeding, the conviction that has been pardoned generally cannot be used to attack your credibility. Likewise, a conviction that has been pardoned cannot be used against you by the government in the future for purposes of giving you a harsher sentence under Indiana’s repeat-offender statute (“habitual offender statute”).
Finally, keep in mind that the effects of a pardon can vary from one state to the next. For example, if you receive a pardon in Indiana and then move to another state, that other state might take away your gun rights or require you to register as a sex offender again even if the pardon lifted these restrictions from you while you were living in Indiana. Thus, you should always check with the laws of the state you move to rather than just assume that the benefits of the pardon moves with you across state lines. Fortunately, states tend and honor each other’s pardons.
- Indiana on Wikipedia
- Indiana State Bar
- ApplyForPardon .com - Pardon form completion service. Enter your information and get a neat and clean looking form sent to you.
- Record Clearing .org - post conviction information
- Ind. Const. art. 5, § 17.
- Ind. Code § 11-9-1-2.
- Ind. Code § 11-9-1-1.
- The Sentencing Project, Indiana, Margaret Colgate Love, http://www.sentencingproject.org/tmp/File/Collateral%20Consequences/Indiana.pdf; See Ind. Admin. Code tit. 220 r. 1.1-4-1.
- The Sentencing Project, Indiana, Margaret Colgate Love, http://www.sentencingproject.org/tmp/File/Collateral%20Consequences/Indiana.pdf
- Ind. Code § 11-9-2-1.
- State v. Bergman, 558 N.E.2d 1111 (Ind. Ct. App. 1990); see also Blake v. State, 860 N.E.2d 625 (Ind. Ct. App. 2007)(accord).
- Blake v. State, 860 N.E.2d 625 (Ind. Ct. App. 2007).
- Ind. Code § 35-38-6-8.
- Ind. Code § 3-7-13-4.
- Ind. Code § 3-7-13-5.
- Ind. Code § 3-7-13-6.
- Ind. Code § 35-47-2-20.
- Ind. Code § 35-47-2-20.; see also Ind. Code § 11-9-2-4.
- 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(20) & (33).
- Ind. Code § 25-1-1.1-1.
- Ind. Rules Evid. 609; see also Nunn v. State of Indiana, 601 N.E.2d 334 (Ind. 1992).
- Ind. Code § 35-50-2-8.