Nevada Pardon Information
The power to grant pardons in Nevada is given to a body called the Board of Pardon Commissioners. The Board is made up of the Governor, the justices of the Supreme Court, and the Attorney General. The Board must meet at least twice a year to consider clemency (including pardon) applications.
The Board has a lot of power. Its authority cannot be limited or restricted in any way by the state Legislature. However, any conditions it places on a pardon must be legal and not contrary to the Nevada or United States Constitutions.
Because the focus of this site is on pardons, we will not discuss reprieves, commutations, remission of fines and forfeitures, amnesty, parole, or other types of clemency that may be available in Nevada here. We will also 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.
You are only eligible for a pardon if you are no longer serving your sentence. You are not eligible to apply if you are still on parole. In addition, the Board of Pardon Commissioners will generally not consider your pardon application until a “significant period of time has passed” since you were finally discharged (released) from your sentence. Furthermore, you must have been completely and totally rehabilitated.
The Board can only grant a pardon for a Nevada State conviction. If you want a pardon on 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.
Also, the Board will generally not consider your application if your conviction was merely a misdemeanor, unless your misdemeanor conviction was for a domestic violence.
Finally, keep in mind that the Board grants pardons very sparingly in Nevada. The Board receives hundreds of applications every year, but grants very few. Just to give you an idea, in 2004 there were approximately 300 pardon applications, but only 12 were granted. In 2012, approximately 1230 applications were received. 12 pardons were granted.
Your chance of getting a pardon largely depends on your individual circumstances. Naturally, the older and less serious your conviction, and the more compelling your life story, the higher your chance of getting a pardon.
Because the chance of getting a pardon in Nevada is so low, if there are alternative options (such as an expungement through a court, a.k.a. “judicial expungement”) that may achieve much of the same things you are trying to achieve with a pardon, you should talk to an attorney to explore those alternative options.
For instance, you can apply for something called a “Certificate of Good Conduct” from the Board. This gives you some but not all of the same benefits of a pardon, and can be used for out-of-state convictions as well (provided you have lived in Nevada for at least five years). Unfortunately, as of this writing the Board has not issued Certificates of Good Conduct for many years. Nevertheless, it is still a good idea to talk to the Board or an attorney to explore your options.
The Application Process
There are no application fees to apply for a pardon in Nevada.
The Board of Pardon Commissioners has conveniently placed its pardon application form on its website at http://www.pardons.nv.gov/. You must use the Board’s form; otherwise your application may be rejected. The form is titled “Community Pardon Application.” If you cannot access the Board’s website or the form itself, you can call the Board at (775) 687-8278 to have a form mailed or emailed to you. You can also write to:
Board of Pardons Commissioners
1445 Old Hot Springs Rd. #108B
Carson City, NV 89711
The form should be quite simple and self-explanatory, as it was created for the non-lawyer to use. The form will ask for basic information such as your name, contact information, date of birth, and Social Security number.
There will be a section asking what type of pardon you are applying for. You have two options: a Full Pardon restoring your rights, including your gun rights; or a Pardon restoring your rights but not including your gun rights. If gun rights are important to you, be sure to check the appropriate box. If you would like your gun rights restored, the Board will ask you to list the reason why you want this—e.g., recreational, career-related, personal/family defense, etc.
The application form will also ask for information about all the convictions you wish to receive a pardon for (remember that the Board can only grant a pardon for Nevada state convictions). Be prepared to list the name of the offense, the court where you were convicted, the county you were convicted in, the amount of any fines or restitutions you were ordered to pay, the name of the judge who sentenced you, the date you were sentenced, the term of your sentence, and the date you were discharged from your sentence.
If you are missing information for any particular conviction, you should contact the clerk’s office of the court where you were convicted. If you do not remember all of the convictions you have received, you can obtain your criminal history report by calling the Nevada Department of Public Safety, Records & Identification Bureau, at (775) 687-1600 or logging onto its website at http://nvrepository.state.nv.us/. The report should list all arrests, charges, and convictions you have received in Nevada.
Because the Board grants very few pardons, you should be prepared to provide a very good reason why the Board should even consider your application. A section on the form will ask you to list “extraordinary circumstances” that have occurred in your life which would warrant a consideration for pardon. We suggest that you submit, on a separate sheet of paper, a detailed and genuine personal statement explaining why you need a pardon.
Do not simply say in your personal statement that you want a clean criminal record. Explain to the Board 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. Submit any proof you may have (such as denial letters) to support your claims.
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 in your personal statement all the positive things that have occurred in your life—for example, educational achievements, new or 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 you in those plans.
In writing your personal statement, keep in mind that the Board will not be retrying you for the offense. Although you may feel the need to explain the facts of the crime from your perspective, avoid trying to make excessive excuses for your crime and arguing away your guilt. However you feel about the crime, you have already been found guilty. The Board is probably more interested in seeing your remorse for the crime, and your understanding of its effects on the victim and society, than anything else.
Also, although not required, we suggest that you submit a few letters of recommendation from credible people (such as your boss) who know you well and can say good things about you. These letters should indicate to what extent the writer knows you and why he or she thinks you should be granted a pardon. The letters should also indicate the writer’s contact information for verification purposes. If possible, you should choose individuals who are not related to you, in order to avoid the appearance of bias.
You will be required to sign a waiver and release form, which would allow the Board (and its partners) to obtain information about you pertaining to your:
- Employment history.
- Criminal history.
- Education history.
- Credit records.
- Tax and bank records.
- Correctional records.
- Sealed and confidential records.
- Medical records.
- Mental health records.
- Any other information that any person or entity may have about you.
The waiver forms can be found at the end of the application form available on the Board’s website. If you do not have the waiver forms, contact the Board at the above number or address and have them sent to you.
The Board wants three copies of the waiver form, all of which need to be signed and dated in front of a notary public. You can find a notary public in most banks. They may charge a small fee, usually depending on whether you have an account with that bank.
Make sure you keep a copy of everything you send for your records. Submit your completed application form, along with your three waiver forms and all supporting letters and documents, to:
Board of Pardons Commissioners
1445 Old Hot Springs Rd. #108B
Carson City, NV 89711
If the Board decides to accept your application for consideration, a complete background check will be conducted on you and a report will be generated and presented to the Board. The report to the Board will detail your criminal history, your financial responsibility, your character and any other information that may be relevant (such as your social and employment history, medical and mental history). The Board will obtain a statement from the district attorney regarding the circumstances surrounding your offense. The victim may also be notified.
You should be upfront and cooperative with the Board and its agents at all times. Do not attempt to hide anything. If the Board later finds out that you’ve been hiding anything, it will reject your application without further review.
A hearing may be held on your application. These hearings are informal. However, you should attend the hearing, even if your attendance is not required. Look and act appropriately. Dress in the way you would if you were going to court for a trial (this means—for men—a suit and tie). Have friends, family members, your pastor, a teacher, your boss or a co-worker, and others in your community there to show their support and possibly even speak in your support. The hearing is an excellent opportunity for you to put a human face onto your application; not only does it let the Board see you in person, it also lets the Board see the amount of support you have in your community.
The Board may take testimony at the hearing, which may be under oath. However, if anyone wants to testify for or against your application at the hearing, you or they will need to notify the Board at least ten days before the hearing.
If you are granted a pardon, you will be given an official document showing that you have been granted a pardon and any restrictions or limitations it may have.
A Nevada pardon does not erase or “expunge” your conviction from your criminal history record. The record of conviction stays in law enforcement and court files. Getting a pardon does not mean you are suddenly “innocent” of the crime; the law still treats you as someone who has been convicted of that particular offense. Like many other states, a pardon in Nevada “forgives, but does not forget.”
Although your pardoned conviction will still be part of your criminal record, the fact that you have been pardoned of the particular offense will become part of your record as well. If you are applying for a job, housing, an occupational or business license, and you are concerned that your conviction may be a problem, you may way to send a copy of your pardon to the employer, landlord, or licensing agency. A pardon a strong official statement forgiving you of the crime and essentially declaring you a rehabilitated individual.
There is a judicial process in which you can petition a court to “seal” records pertaining to your conviction if a minimum number of years have passed since you were discharged from your sentence. This option is not available for sex offenses, offenses against children, or for anyone else who has been convicted of any offense during their waiting period. You should talk to a record expungement attorney if you think you qualify for this option.
|See http://www.recordgone.com/Nevada/ for more information and options for record sealing and expungement|
The main benefit of a Nevada pardon is that—if it is a full, unconditional pardon—it restores all of your citizenship rights and relieves you from all legal disabilities you have as a result of the conviction. However, the Board of Pardon Commissioners need not grant you a “full, unconditional” pardon. The presumption is that a pardon is full and unconditional unless the official pardon document you receive explicitly limits the types of rights you are restored or the types of legal disabilities you are relieved of.
Keep in mind that in most cases you are automatically restored your rights to vote and serve on a jury (in a civil case) after you have completed your sentence on a felony conviction. Also, your right to hold public office is restored four years after your release from your sentence, and your right to serve on a jury in a criminal case is restored six years after your release from your sentence. Therefore, if these are the only rights you care about restoring, a pardon might not be necessary because they might already be restored.
A conviction that has been pardoned cannot be used to impeach you (attack your credibility) if you are ever a witness in a future court proceeding.
If you are required to register as a sex offender, a pardon will not release you from your duty to continue registering as such, even if it is a full, unconditional pardon. The only way to get off Nevada’s sex offender registry is by petitioning with a court. You should talk to an attorney knowledgeable about this process if you are interested.
If you are a convicted felon, you are prohibited from owning a gun in Nevada. A pardon is the only way to restore your gun rights. As indicated above in Part C, if you want your gun rights restored, you must be sure to check the appropriate box on the pardon application form indicating that this is what you want. Like the other rights, a pardon would restore your gun rights unless it specifically says otherwise.
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. Again, 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.
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 Nevada 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 listed these restrictions on you while you were living in Nevada. 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.
- Nevada on Wikipedia
- Nevada 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
- Nev. Const. art. 5, § 14; Nev. Rev. Stat. § 213.010.
- Nev. Rev. Stat. § 213.010.
- State of Nevada, Office of the Attorney General, November 18, 2003, http://www.pardons.nv.gov/PardonInformalOpinion.pdf
- Nev. Admin. Code ch. 213, § 080.
- The Sentencing Project, Nevada, Margaret Colgate Love, http://www.sentencingproject.org/tmp/File/Nevada.pdf
- The Sentencing Project, Nevada, Margaret Colgate Love, http://www.sentencingproject.org/detail/publication.cfm?publication_id=115
- Brian Campolieti, Program Officer
- Nev. Rev. Stat. § 213.040.
- Nev. Admin. Code ch. 213, § 190.
- Nev. Admin. Code ch. 213, § 200.
- Nev. Admin. Code ch. 213, § 210.
- Nev. Rev. Stat. § 213.090.
- In Matter of Application of Shin, No. 47995 (Nev. 2009 March 26, 2009)(“[A] pardon is an act of forgiveness that restores civil rights and removes most legal consequences of a criminal conviction . . . . Only the Legislature can remove the historical fact of a criminal conviction by authorizing the expunction of the criminal record.”)
- See Jones v. State, 707 P.2d 1128 (Nev. 1985)(“Executive clemency involves an act of pardon which is evidenced by an executive order signed by the Governor absolving a defendant from the guilt of his criminal act and completely exempting him from the pains and penalties imposed on him by law.”); Pinana v. State, 352 P.2d 824 (Nev. 1960)(“A pardon is the exercise of the sovereign's prerogative of mercy. It completely frees the offender from the control of the state. It not only exempts him from further punishment but relieves him from all the legal disabilities resulting from his conviction. It blots out the very existence of his guilt, so that, in the eye of the law, he is thereafter as innocent as if he had never committed the offense.”). But see Op. Nev. Att’y Gen. (Nov. 18, 2003)(full, unconditional pardon removes disabilities, including licensing barriers, but does not “erase conviction” or remove stigma of conviction).
- Nev. Rev. Stat. § 179.245.
- Nev. Rev. Stat. § 213.157.
- Nev. Rev. Stat. § 50.095.
- Nev. Rev. Stat. § 179D.490.
- State of Nevada, Office of the Attorney General, November 18, 2003, http://www.pardons.nv.gov/PardonInformalOpinion.pdf; see also Nev. Rev. Stat. § 202.360.
- Nev. Rev. Stat. § 202.360.
- 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(20) & (33).