Idaho Pardon Information
This page was last updated in 2015.
In Idaho, the power to grant pardons does not rest with the Governor, but with an agency created by the Legislature. That legislative agency is called the Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole. The Commission is composed of 5 members appointed by the Governor and approved by the Senate. The members serve at the pleasure of the Governor, and no more than 4 of the members can be from a single political party.
The Constitution grants the Commission the power to remit fines and forfeitures, grant commutations and pardons. The Governor has some clemency power (to grant respites and reprieves, for example), but except for a few offenses has no involvement in the pardon process.
Because the focus of this site is on pardons, we will not discuss commutations, reprieves, remission of fines and forfeitures, parole or other types of clemency that may be available in Idaho 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.
First, keep in mind that, as in most other states, a pardon in Idaho is a privilege, not a right.It is an act of grace. The Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole receives between 20 and 30 applications per year, of which about 1/3 of them are granted.
Your chance of getting a pardon largely depends on your individual circumstances. Naturally, the older your conviction(s) and the more compelling your life story is, the higher your chance of getting a pardon.
You are eligible to apply for a pardon for most offenses except for treason and impeachment. However, the Commission cannot unilaterally grant you a pardon for murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, kidnapping, lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor child, and manufacture or delivery of controlled substances. For these offenses, the Commission can only make a recommendation to the Governor, who would have the final say on whether or not you receive a pardon.
You can only receive a pardon on an Idaho State conviction. 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.
You can receive a pardon on a misdemeanor as well as a felony conviction. However, there is a waiting period after you were discharged from your sentence before you can apply. For non-violent and non-sex-related offenses, you must wait at least 3 years after you were discharged from sentence before you can apply. For violent crimes and sex-related crimes, you must wait 5 years. 
The rule of thumb is if you are unsure whether or not you are eligible to apply, you should go ahead and apply. There is no harm in doing so. But again, keep in mind that the Commission grants less than 50% of the applications it receives. In 2008, 8 applications were received. No pardons were granted and 1 application was denied.
The Commission can grant you a full pardon or it can attach any conditions on your pardon as it deems appropriate.
The Application Process
There are no fees to apply for a pardon in Idaho. The Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole has created a simple application form to apply for a pardon. The form can be found on its website at https://parole.idaho.gov/. If you cannot access the Commission’s website or the form itself, contact the Commission directly at 208-334-2520 and ask for one to be sent or emailed to you. You can also write to the Commission at:
P.O. Box 83720
Boise, Idaho 83720-1807
This is also the address where you must send your completed application and accompanying materials. The form is very short, simple, and self-explanatory. However, it is important that you fill it out completely and answer all questions truthfully.
You will be asked to provide information about all the convictions which you would like a pardon for, including the name of the offense, the date you were convicted, the county where you were convicted, and the sentence you received. If you do not remember the details or whereabouts of a particular conviction, you may need to obtain a criminal report for yourself so that you can identify information about that conviction. You can do this by contacting the Idaho Bureau of Criminal Identification at (208) 884-7130 or writing to P.O. Box 700, Meridian, Idaho 83680-0700.
The Commission will allow you to submit letters of support from reputable members in your community who know you and can talk about your character and activities. You should definitely take advantage of this opportunity. Have your minister, a teacher, a judge, a past or present employer, a neighbor, a co-worker, or any other credible person write a letter in your support (your 16-year-old sister is probably not a credible source to write a letter) The writer should indicate how he or she knows you and why he or she thinks you should receive a pardon. The writer should also put their contact information on the letter.
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 Commission how your conviction has negatively affected you and/or your family. For example, and if applicable, 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 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 or hinder those plans.
In writing your personal statement, keep in mind that the Commission is not retrying you for the offense. Although you may want to explain the facts of the crime from your perspective, avoid trying to make excessive excuses for your crime and arguing away your guilt. Whatever you feel about the crime, you had already been found guilty. The Commission 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.
After the Commission receives your application, along with all supporting letters and documents, it will conduct an investigation into your case. The investigation will include a criminal record check. The Commission may also have agents interview you as well as those who wrote letters of support for you. You should be upfront and cooperative with the Commission and its agents at all times.
After investigation is complete, the Commission may hold a hearing on your application. The Commission holds pardon hearings 4 times every year, in the months of January, April, July, and October. If a hearing is held in your case, it will be a public hearing, which means that anyone from the general public can attend. The victim(s) of your crime will be notified of the hearing and will have an opportunity to attend.
The Commission will post a notice in a major newspaper to alert the public that you are applying for a pardon. A copy of the notice will also be mailed to the prosecuting attorney in the county where you were sentenced. The prosecuting may attend the hearing to speak out against your application.
Although you are not required to attend the hearing, we highly encourage you to attend. If possible, have a few people there (family members, friends, church members, neighbors, co-workers, etc.) who can speak out to support you. The hearing is an excellent opportunity for you to put a human face onto your application; it lets the Commission not only see you in person but also see the amount of support you have in your community.
A majority of the Commission members must vote to grant you the pardon. If you committed one of the serious offenses listed above, then the Governor has the final say on your pardon after she receives the recommendation from the Commission (note: the Governor only has 30 days to act, otherwise the pardon is automatically denied). The result of your pardon application, whether granted or denied, will be made available to you and will become public information.
In Idaho, if you are sentenced to the custody of the Idaho State Board of Corrections, all of your civil rights (including your gun rights) are suspended only during your imprisonment. Once you have received a final discharge from your sentence (this means completion of your prison term, probation, and parole), in most cases you are automatically “restored the full rights of citizenship.”
However, if you were convicted of certain offenses, your gun rights are not restored even after you have been discharged from your sentence. This is where a pardon is necessary. In these cases, the Commission may restore your gun rights at the time it grants you a pardon. In order for your gun rights to be restored by the Commission, at least 5 years must have passed since you were discharged from your sentence. For certain crimes, including first- and second-degree murder, as well as crimes where a firearm was involved, the Commission cannot restore your gun rights at all.
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 your desire clear during the application process (such as your in personal statement).
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.
If you have an out-of-state conviction, you can register to vote in Idaho once you are discharged from your sentence. However, the Commission cannot restore gun rights which you lost as a result of an out-of-state conviction. You will need to contact the state of conviction to find out what you can do with respect to your gun rights (or consult the appropriate chapter on this site for that particular state).
If you had any welfare or employment disabilities imposed by the state (e.g., you could not be a health care provider or a bus driver) because of the conviction, the pardon will relieve you of those disabilities.
If you have been registering as a sex offender because of a conviction, a pardon for that particular conviction will release you of your duty to continue registering as a sex offender. Of course, if you have other convictions which require you to register and which have not been pardoned, then you must continue to register. There is a procedure for you to ask a court to release you from the duty to register if at least 10 years have passed since you completed your sentence.3Talk to an attorney if you are interested in this option.
If you are still incarcerated in prison at the time you receive a pardon, the pardon would have the effect of releasing you from prison early. Again, however, the Commission can place any conditions on your pardon as it deems appropriate; if you violate any of these conditions, the pardon could be revoked and you could be re-arrested and thrown back in prison.
The Idaho Supreme Court stated over 30 years ago that a pardon “does away with both the punishment and the effects of a finding of guilty.” This means that once you receive a pardon for a particular conviction, in all likelihood the conviction cannot be used against you in any future criminal case (e.g., to enhance future sentences, to attack your credibility if you are a witness, etc.).
Depending on the facts of your case, you may be able to petition a court to expunge the pardoned conviction from your criminal record, so that the general public cannot see it. Although a pardon has many benefits, it does not necessarily expunge your conviction from your criminal record. You should talk to an attorney knowledgeable about record expungements if you are interested in this option.
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 Idaho 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 off you while you were living in Idaho. 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.
- Idaho on Wikipedia
- Idaho 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
- Idaho Const. art. IV, § 7.
- See Idaho Code § 20-210.
- Malloroy v. State, 91 Idaho 914 (Id. 1967).
- See Attorney General Opinion, No. 1993-O-0003 (March 31, 1993)(‚"In Idaho . . . pardon, parole, and commutation are not matters of right or privilege. They are matters of grace or clemency.‚")(citations omitted).
- The Sentencing Project, Idaho, Margaret Colgate Love, http://www.sentencingproject.org/tmp/File/Collateral%20Consequences/Idaho.pdf.
- Idaho Code § 20-240.
- Rules of the Commission of Pardons and Parole, Rule 550.
- Idaho Const. art. IV, § 7; see also Attorney General Opinion, No. 1993-O-0003 (March 31, 1993); 67A C.J.S., Pardon and Parole § 37 (‚"The pardoning authority generally has the power to grant a commutation on conditions it deems proper, provided they are not illegal, immoral, forbidden by law, or impossible of performance; and such conditions are binding on the prisoner, at least if he accepts the commutation.‚").
- Idaho Code § 20-213. See also Idaho Const. art. IV, § 7 (no commutation or pardon may be granted ‚"except by the decision of a majority of [the Commission], after a full hearing in open session, and until previous notice of the time and place of such hearing and the release applied for shall have been given by publication in some newspaper of general circulation at least once a week for four weeks‚").
- Rules of the Commission of Pardons and Parole, Rule 300.
- Idaho Code § 20-213.
- Idaho Code § 20-213A.
- Idaho Code § 18-310.
- 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(20) & (33).
- Rules of the Commission of Pardons and Parole, Rule 011(08).
- Idaho Code § 18-8310.
- See also State v. Kaiser, 696 P.2d 868 (Idaho 1985).
- Standlee v. State, 96 Idaho 849 (Idaho 1975); see also Bates v. Murphy, 796 P.2d 116 (Idaho 1990)(accord); Attorney General Opinion, No. 94-3 (July 6, 1994)(‚"A pardon does away with both the punishment and the effects of a finding of guilt.‚").