Wyoming Pardon Information
The Wyoming Constitution gives the Governor the power to remit fines and forfeitures, grant pardons, reprieves, and commutations, except in cases of treason and impeachment. The Legislature has the power to regulate the manner in which the Governor grants these things. The Governor is required to report to the Legislature every year, detailing each pardon granted, including the name of the convict, the crime he committed, the date and sentence he received, and the date and the reasons for the pardon.
Unlike in many other states, there is not a Pardon or Parole Board that handles pardon applications. All applications for a pardon are submitted directly to the Governor’s office. There is a body called the Wyoming Parole Board, but this body plays absolutely no role in the pardon application process.
Because the focus of this site is on pardons, we do not discuss reprieves, commutations, remission of fines and forfeitures, parole, or other types of clemency that may be available in Wyoming here. We also do not discuss judicial alternatives such as record expungment, 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 to apply for a pardon if at least ten years have passed since you were released from your sentence (including any probation or parole) for the conviction. Of course, the Governor can make exceptions to this rule. For example, the Governor can consider your application for a pardon if you are a prison inmate who is in imminent danger of death, as documented by a physician. Another example might be you are facing deportation for a minor crime and need the pardon now or else you will be separated from your loved ones.
You are also eligible to apply for a pardon if you are a prison inmate serving a life sentence. In this case, the ten-year waiting period obviously would not apply, although the Governor will probably expect that you have served a substantial number of years in prison.
There is a way to restore some of your basic rights without actually getting a pardon. This alternative is called “restoration of rights.” A restoration of rights restores your rights to vote, to serve on a jury, and to hold public office. This may be an attractive alternative if you have not met the ten-year waiting period for a pardon. There is no waiting period for applying for a restoration of rights, except that your sentence must have expired or you must have satisfactorily completed your probation.
You are generally not eligible for either a pardon or restoration of rights if you were convicted of a sex crime or a crime involving a child victim. Finally, it should be noted that pardons (and restorations of rights, for that matter) are rarely granted in Wyoming. In the ten-year period from 1995 to 2005, only two pardons and ten restorations of rights were granted. In 2012, no pardons were granted. Additionally, the number of applications received is not kept on record.
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. 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 simply more lenient than others in handing out pardons.
The Application Process
There are no application fees to apply for a pardon in Wyoming. Unfortunately, as of the time of this writing, the Governor’s office has not made its application materials available for you to access on the Internet. In order to apply for a pardon or restoration of rights, you will need to contact the Attorney General’s office at 307-777-7977 to have the materials sent to you. You can also write to:
Wyoming Attorney General
123 Capitol Building
Cheyenne, Wyoming 82002
In your application, whether you are applying for a pardon or a restoration of rights, you must provide the minimum following information:
- Your name, address, date of birth, marital status, Social Security Number, and all children’s names (if any).
- All hospitalizations that you have had within the last five years.
- Whether you would like a pardon or restoration of rights, and whether you would accept a restoration of rights if you are not granted a pardon.
- All crimes which you were convicted of and would now like a pardon or restoration of rights for.
- The date and place of each conviction and the judge’s name.
- The sentence you received for each conviction.
- The amount of time you served in prison/jail, whether all fines/restitution/court costs have been paid, and the date you were discharged/released from probation or parole.
- All subsequent arrests, criminal charges, convictions or sentences.
- Your employment history for the past five years, including your current employment; and
- The names and telephone numbers of five people who support you receiving a pardon.
If you do not remember the details or whereabouts of all of your convictions, you may need to obtain your criminal history report. You can find out how to do this by calling the Division of Criminal Investigation at (307) 777-7181. You can also log onto its website at http://attorneygeneral.state.wy.us/dci/. The report should list all arrests, charges, and convictions you have ever received in Wyoming.
If you have convictions in other states, you can obtain a more comprehensive, nationwide criminal report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 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. Alternatively, 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 arrests/convictions. Listed on Criminal History Record Repositories is a list of criminal history record repositories for all 50 states.
In addition to the above, you must submit the following things along with your application:
- A certified copy of the Judgment and Sentence for each conviction you are seeking a pardon/restoration of rights for. You can get this from the clerk’s office of the court where you were convicted. The clerk’s office will usually charge a small fee for this service.
- A written statement—in your own words—detailing the facts and circumstances of each crime and how it has affected you and your family, and how you believe it has affected your victim.
- Documents such as copies of you college transcripts, job offer letters, marriage certificates, awards and recognitions, etc., which you want the Governor to consider with your application.
In writing your personal statement, keep in mind that the Governor will not be retrying you for the crime. Don’t try to make excessive excuses for your crime or argue away your guilt. However you feel about the crime, you have already been found guilty. The Governor 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.
In your personal statement, detail how the conviction has negatively affected you and 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 you and your family 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 on 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.
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.
The Governor may request for more information/documents from you as she reviews your application. You should be upfront and cooperative with the Governor and her agents at all times. The Governor will also perform a criminal history check on you; by submitting your application, you authorize the Governor to do this.
Make sure you keep a copy of everything you send for your records. Your completed application, along with all supporting documents and letters of recommendation, should be mailed to:
Governor of Wyoming
Wyoming State Capitol
Cheyenne, WY 82002
If you have any questions, you can call the Governor’s office directly at 307-777-7434. You can also call the Attorney General’s office for assistance with your application at 307-777-7977.
Once the Governor receives your application (for either a pardon or a restoration of rights), she will notify the District Attorney in the county where you were convicted of the crime. Technically, for a restoration of rights, the Governor is not required to notify the District Attorney, but as a matter of practice the Governor always does. The District Attorney then has ten days to provide the Governor with a written statement detailing your conviction, including any aggravating or mitigating factors in the case.
Although rare, the Governor may request to meet with you personally. If the Governor makes this request, do not under any circumstance turn it down. A personal interview with the Governor is a good opportunity for you to put a human face onto your application; it lets the Governor see the person behind the words. You must look and act your best in front of the Governor; dress in the same way you would if you were going to court for a trial. If allowed, bring friends, family members, and others in your community come with you so the Governor can see the support you have in your community.
The process takes between three to six months to complete from the time you submit your application to the time the Governor makes her final decision. If the Governor grants you a pardon or restoration of rights, a copy of the Governor’s order will be filed with the Wyoming Secretary of State.
A pardon in Wyoming serves primarily to release you from the punishment, penalties, or disabilities for the crime and to restore any rights which you lost as a result of the conviction. If you were sentenced to life without parole, a pardon is pretty much the only way to get you out of prison (the other way is a commutation, which is where the Governor reduces your sentence or substitutes it something less harsh; we do not discuss commutations on this site).
The basic rights which a pardon restores for you are the right to vote, the right to serve on a jury, and the right to hold public office. As we stated in Part B, a “restoration of rights” restores those same rights. However, a pardon also restores your right to possess a gun if that was ever lost. Furthermore, a conviction which has been pardoned cannot be used to attack your credibility if you are ever a witness in a future criminal trial, provided you were not convicted of another felony after you receive the pardon.
However, a pardon does not seal, erase, or expunge your conviction. As in many other states, a pardon in Wyoming “forgives, but does not forget.” Your conviction will still appear in your criminal history record. Nevertheless, the fact that you were pardoned for that particular conviction will also be part of the public record.
If you are ever concerned that your conviction may be a problem when you apply for a job, housing, a business or occupational license, you may want to send the employer, landlord, or licensing agency a copy of your pardon. The pardon is, after all, a strong official statement of forgiveness and rehabilitation from the highest executive officer of the state. Most employers, licensing agencies, and landlords will probably ignore your conviction if they know you have been pardoned.
Unfortunately, Wyoming does not have any process for expunging felony convictions. There, however, is a way to expunge a misdemeanor conviction for the limited purpose of restoring your gun rights. This requires a petition filed with the court where you were convicted. Among other requirements, at least one year must have passed since your sentence expired (including any probation or other court-ordered program). You should talk to an attorney to find out whether you are eligible and what the process is.
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” 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.
Also, 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 Wyoming 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 Wyoming. 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.
- Wyoming on Wikipedia
- Wyoming 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
- Wyo. Const. Art 4, § 5.
- Wyoming Board of Parole, Frequently Asked Questions, http://bop.state.wy.us/faq/faq.htm
- Wyo. Stat. § 7-13-806.
- Wyo. Stat. § 6-10-301.
- Wyo. Stat. § 7-13-105.
- The Sentencing Project, Wyoming, Margaret Colgate Love, http://www.sentencingproject.org/tmp/File/Collateral%20Consequences/Wyoming.pdf
- Sherri Briggs
- Wyo. Stat. § 7-13-804.
- Wyo. Stat. § 7-13-805.
- Wyo. Stat. § 6-10-301.
- Wyo. Stat. § 6-10-106.
- Wyo. Stat. § 6-8-102.
- Wyo. Rules Evid. 609.
- The Sentencing Project, Wyoming, Margaret Colgate Love, http://www.sentencingproject.org/tmp/File/Collateral%20Consequences/Wyoming.pdf; see also Stanton v. State, 686 P.2d 587 (Wyo. 1984)(it is an encroachment upon the executive power for the judiciary to expunge a felony record for the purpose of restoring civil rights); Johnson v. State, 971 P.2d 973, 1998 Wy. 42030 (Wyo. 1998)(“Because expungement of a final judgment of conviction has the effect of a pardon and the pardoning power belongs exclusively to the executive department, the judicial department’s exercise of an expungement power would be a constitutionally impermissible encroachment on the executive department’s pardoning power.”)
- Wyo. Stat. § 7-13-1501.
- 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(20) & (33).