Pardons in Nevada: Definitions and Common Questions Answered

Once the term of the Governor of Nevada comes to an end, a new Governor is elected to take their place. During this transition, the outgoing Governor has the authority to grant pardons to individuals they believe have either reformed or deserve release from prison.

This takes place in every state and even the President of The United States pardons a list of people at the end of the term.

You will sometimes hear about these cases on the news.

But what exactly is a pardon and how does a convicted person obtain one?

What is a Pardon in Nevada

A pardon is a gracious act by the government, absolving individuals of their past transgressions committed within the state of Nevada.

A pardon does not erase the crimes or convictions that you have on your record, only a sealed record can do that.

What a pardon does is restore your civil rights that were taken away when you were convicted. This includes your gun rights.

Have you ever heard the saying “I forgive but don’t forget”?

That is exactly what a pardon is—forgiveness from the crime but the conviction still stands.

The Nevada Board of Pardon Commissioners is the one who decides all matters regarding pardon issues.

The Board is composed of the Governor of Nevada, The Nevada Supreme Court Justices, and The Nevada Attorney General.

Why Should I Try and Get a Pardon

There are many ways a post-conviction pardon can benefit someone that has been convicted of a crime:

  1. Better employment opportunities: a potential employer may look more favorable upon your application if you have a pardon from your conviction. You can send a letter of pardon with your application. Licensing Boards may not recognize the pardon and disqualify you for bad moral character due to your conviction.
  2. The restoration of civil rights: This includes the right to own firearms if you have been convicted of a felony or battery domestic violence. You can immediately serve on a jury in a civil case, hold office after four years, and serve on a jury for a criminal case after six years.
  3. Lower Chance of Deportation: If your conviction is deportable, a non-citizen might be less likely to be deported with a pardon

A pardon will not restore any civil rights if you have previously been convicted in Nevada of:

  • A category B felony
  • A category B felony where force or violence resulted in Substantial bodily harm
  • Two or more felonies unless they resulted from the same act

If any of these three are true, the only way to restore civil rights is to petition the court that convicted you.

A pardon will not relieve the requirement to register as a sex offender.

Am I Eligible to Receive a Pardon in Nevada

The Board of Pardons takes each application for a pardon on a case-by-case basis.

Pardons are typically granted to people who have demonstrated good conduct for a substantial period of time since the criminal case against them has been closed.

You will be disqualified if you:

  • Are still serving out a sentence for the criminal offense
  • Are on parole
  • Required to register as a sex offender
  • Under a current criminal investigation
  • Have unresolved criminal charges against you
  • Have a criminal case on appeal
  • The Board does not see you as having been rehabilitated

The board can make exceptions if the applicant can show extraordinary circumstances that mitigate the disqualifying issues in the case.

A significant amount of time must have passed to be considered for a pardon since the case was closed.

When Can I Apply for a Pardon

There are specific periods of time that the board of pardons requires to be considered for a pardon.

These time periods are based on the conviction:

  • Misdemeanor battery for domestic violence: 5 years from the date you’re released from custody or the date when you are no longer under a suspended sentence whatever is later
  • Category E felony: 6 years from the date of release from prison, parole, or probation
  • Category D felony: 8 years from the date of your release from probation or 9 years from the date of release from parole or prison
  • Category C felony: 8 years from the date of your release from probation or 9 years from the date of release from parole or prison
  • Category B felony: 8 years from the date of your release from probation or 10 years from your release from parole or prison
  • Category A felony: 12 years from your date of release from probation, prison, or parole

If you apply for a pardon for a crime and are arrested for another crime you may not begin the application process until the other case is closed in the case of a misdemeanor.

In some cases, the board may waive the time requirement with a compelling argument.

How Do I Apply for a Pardon

You must submit an application to The Board of Pardons Commissioners.

The application is available online.

The application must include:

  • Name
  • Contact information
  • Date of Birth
  • Social security number
  • Detailed information about past convictions and sentences
  • Whether or not you are requesting to have your gun rights restored.
  • Extraordinary circumstances that make you eligible for a pardon

Some examples of extraordinary circumstances include:

  • I’ve been denied housing due to my conviction
  • I’ve been denied employment
  • I cannot provide for my family due to my conviction

Once the application is finished, the Board must receive all evidence and other information within 7 days of receiving the application.

What Happens After I Submit My Application

A background check will be conducted on you and the D.A. in your case and past victims may be contacted.

You must be truthful in your application.

The Board will automatically decline any application that omits anything about the case or if you lie on your application.

After the background check, the board will hold a hearing. You are not required to attend but it is in your best interest to attend and dress appropriately. It is also recommended that you attend with a lawyer.

During the hearing, the Board will hear testimony like at a trial from:

  • The D.A. in your case
  • The district judge
  • The director of the Nevada Department of Corrections

Also during the hearing, the board may consider depositions or affidavits.

If you are granted a pardon, a document will be issued showing that you have been granted a pardon and the dates that certain rights will be restored.

Will I Need a Hearing

If you meet the following five criteria you will need a hearing:

  1. The crime requested for the pardon does not include physical injury to the victim or does not involve violence or was not a sex crime
  2. You have never been convicted of an offense that caused bodily injury or a crime involving violence or sex crime
  3. The court that convicted you does not object to the pardon
  4. The D.A of the county where the case took place does not object to the pardon
  5. The pardon board does not receive written notice concerning a meeting to consider an application for clemency from the victim of a crime committed by you

The process for the application can take a few weeks to a few months.

Other Important Information About Pardons

The Board of Pardons grants very few pardons, so it is recommended that you hire an experienced attorney to help you navigate the process and give you the best chance.

Submitting the application to Parsons is free of charge, although there may be fees associated with notarizing and submitting the application.

The Pardons Board exclusively grants pardons within Nevada. If you require a pardon for a crime committed in another state, you must apply directly to that state or, if the crime falls under federal jurisdiction, to the federal government.

Are Pardons Like Sealed Records

A pardon is completely different from a sealed conviction.

A sealed conviction causes the past conviction not to come up on a background check.

With a pardon, the crime will show up on a background check.

Sealed records can also never restore your gun rights.

You can apply to have your records sealed whether or not you have been pardoned. It is easier to have your records sealed than to get a pardon.

Convicted and Want to Consider a Pardon?

If you have been convicted of a crime and believe you would like to apply for a pardon, contact The Defenders criminal defense team for a consultation on the process of getting a pardon in Nevada.

If you’re considering applying for a pardon or a sealed record you need an experienced lawyer to help you navigate the paperwork and any hearings that you may have to attend.

The smallest issue could mean the difference between receiving that pardon to restore your rights or having your record sealed to not having these things happen for you.

The Defenders will give you the best chance.

We will provide you with the personalized attention and support that you need in order to make sure that your application for a pardon or sealed record is successful. Contact us today. We are here to help guide you through this complicated process, from helping you understand the timeline and requirements for applying for a pardon or getting your records sealed to representing you at hearings if necessary.

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