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PardonMe: Colorado

The Pardon Application Process is an administrative proceeding conducted entirely within the executive branches of the 50 state governments. You do not need a lawyer to seek a pardon. Some people use lawyers; some don’t. It’s up to you.

Pardon: Public acclamation or forgiveness for a crime after completion of a criminal sentence. A pardon is an important achievement based upon proof of rehabilitation, i.e., a useful, productive and law-abiding life after serving one’s sentence. A pardon restores firearm privileges, removes civil (legal) disabilities, and can establish rights or privileges to acquire regulated licenses, and employment.

Colorado Constitution, Article IV, Section 7: “The governor shall have the power to grant …pardons after conviction for all offenses except treason, and except in case of impeachment, subject to such regulations as may be prescribed by law relative to the manner of applying for pardons,….”

If you are 10 years or more out of the Colorado criminal justice system, you can apply for a Colorado pardon. (There are no fees to apply for a pardon in Colorado.) Applications are sent to the DA and the convicting court, who have 10 days to comment. [1] Colorado Revised Statutes, Sections 16-17-101, 16-17-102.

Executive Clemency Advisory Board. Makes recommendations to the Governor on all eligible pardon applications. This Board consists of 7 unpaid members who are appointed by the Governor.  To receive a recommendation for the pardon, at least 4 members of the Board must vote to recommend your  pardon.

Important: A Colorado pardon does not seal, erase, or expunge your conviction; it “forgives but does not forget.” There is no expungement of adult convictions in Colorado. Convictions remain part of the public criminal record, but so does a pardon.

Only A Pardon Clarifies Other Amibiguities in Colorado Law. Colorado has a “Nondiscrimination in Licensing and Employment” statute, which purports to help rehabilitated people with criminal records, but it does not say how someone proves they are rehabilitated.

A Pardon is presently the only definitive proof of rehabilitation in Colorado. Based on the current state of Colorado law, without a pardon, a felony conviction can still be used legally to discriminate against you because of the various exceptions and qualifications in Colorado’s “Nondiscrimination in Licensing and Employment,” which states as follows:

Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-5-101(1)(a):  “[T]he fact that a person has been convicted of a felony or other offense involving moral turpitude shall not, in and of itself, prevent the person from applying for and obtaining public employment or from applying for and receiving a license, certification, permit, or registration required by the laws of this state to follow any business, occupation, or profession.”  § 24-5-101(b) excepts certain professions, including law enforcement, education, and employment that involves direct contact with vulnerable persons.  See also § 27-1-110.  Conviction “shall be given consideration in determining whether, in fact, the applicant is a person of good moral character at the time of the application.” § 24-5-101(2).  The intent of the section is “to expand employment opportunities for persons who, notwithstanding that fact of conviction of an offense, have been rehabilitated and are ready to accept the responsibilities of a law-abiding and productive member of society.”  Id.

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Thank you,

Michael Sweig, JD, Founder
Read: “From Practicing Law to Changing it,” by Dawn Turner Trice (Chicago Tribune, August 1, 2010)

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[1] Federal and non-Colorado convictions are ineligible for a Colorado pardon.