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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

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What is the Process for Applying for a Pardon in New York City?

The Step-by-Step Process for Applying for a Pardon in New York City

Seeking a pardon in New York City can be an intimidating process, but having an understanding of the basic steps can make navigating the system much easier. This guide will walk you through the key elements of the pardon application process in NYC so you know what to expect.

Overview of the Pardon Process

A pardon in New York is an executive clemency order granted by the governor that serves to forgive a prior conviction (though it does not expunge or erase the conviction from your record). In order to receive a pardon in NYC, you must first submit an application to the state’s Executive Clemency Bureau. This application involves providing detailed background information, letters of recommendation, and other supporting materials.

Once your pardon application is submitted, it undergoes an intensive multi-agency review process involving background checks and assessments of your case. If approved at the state level, your application gets passed on to the governor for final consideration. Receiving a pardon ultimately comes down to demonstrating your rehabilitation and earning forgiveness.

The pardon process from start to finish can take 1-3 years in New York. So this is not a quick or easy form of relief. But for those committed to moving past an old conviction, a governor’s pardon can be life-changing.

Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for a pardon in New York City, there are a number of legal eligibility requirements you must meet:

  • You must be a current New York State resident and have lived in the state for at least 5 years prior to applying.
  • At least 5 years must have passed since the maximum sentence for all your convictions was completed (including incarceration, probation, and parole) .
  • Applicants typically must have no pending criminal charges or investigations at the time of application.
  • Your conviction(s) cannot have included any Class A felonies.
  • You cannot have been convicted of sex offenses, treason, impeachment, or crimes related to public office.

Meeting the minimum eligibility criteria is essential, but does not guarantee a pardon will ultimately be approved. The strength of your application and rehabilitation matter most.

Gathering Required Application Materials

Compiling all the materials for a pardon application can feel daunting. Here’s an overview of key items the Executive Clemency Bureau requires:

  • Application Form: You must submit the official application form which collects background facts about your personal history, employment, education, convictions, and more.
  • Personal Statement: This is an essay describing your conviction, how you have rehabilitated, and why you deserve clemency. It’s important to take responsibility and show remorse.
  • Letters of Recommendation: You need 2-5 letters speaking to your good character and rehabilitation. These are best from employers, teachers, clergy, volunteer leaders or others in your community.
  • Supporting Documentation: This includes proof of residency, education/training certificates, evidence of community service, positive drug tests if applicable, and other relevant materials.
  • Fees: You must pay a non-refundable $20 money order application fee, though indigent applicants can request a fee waiver.

Compiling these pardon application materials can take substantial time and effort. But thorough preparation is key as you only have one chance to make your best case to reviewers.

Submitting Your Application

Once you have gathered all the required pardon application materials, you need to properly submit them to start the official review process. Here are next steps:

  • Make copies of your entire application to retain for your personal records.
  • Send the original application through certified mail or deliver in-person to the NYS Executive Clemency Bureau office in Albany, NY.
  • You will receive an emailed confirmation notification once your application is received and logged by the Bureau.
  • If any items are missing from your application or need clarification, the Bureau will notify you by mail. You can resubmit corrected or supplemental materials as needed.

Expect it to take at least 3-6 months before you receive initial case status updates or clarification requests from the Executive Clemency Bureau. Pardons move slowly so patience is key.

Once you formally submit your pardon application, here is an overview of what happens behind the scenes:

  • Background Investigation: Your history and case will be thoroughly investigated by the Department of Corrections, Division of Parole, and other agencies.
  • Inter-Agency Review: An in-depth case assessment will be conducted by the Executive Clemency Bureau along with all involved agencies.
  • Final Recommendation: Ultimately a recommendation will be made to the Governor to either approve or deny your pardon request based on whether you have demonstrated rehabilitation.

This intensive investigation and review can take 12+ months in New York City. You will receive periodic status updates from the Bureau during this period. If additional materials are needed to further consider your case, you will be notified.

Receiving the Governor’s Pardon Decision

The final step once your investigation and reviews are complete is receiving the official pardon determination from the Governor’s office:

  • If your pardon is approved, you will receive an executive order from the Governor granting you clemency. This will outline any applicable conditions and restore certain civil rights lost due to conviction.
  • If your pardon is denied, you will receive an official letter outlining the reasons for the decision. Though disappointing, focus on continuing your rehabilitation journey.
  • In rare cases, some applicants are asked to further discuss their cases in-person before a final pardon decision is made by the Governor.

Remember, receiving a pardon in New York State is very challenging. But for those committed to atoning for past mistakes, it can represent a powerful second chance. Stay patient and positive throughout the process.

Resources To Assist With New York Pardons

Navigating New York’s pardon process on your own can be extremely difficult. Here are some recommendations on experienced criminal justice advocates who can help guide your effort:

  • Hire an attorney experienced with Executive Clemency Bureau pardons – They can advise you through every stage of the process from application to decision. Attorney referrals can be found through the New York State Bar Association.
  • Enlist a social worker to assemble your supporting case materials– Social workers routinely prepare pardon petitions and other background evidence for submission.
  • Contact prisoner advocacy groups familiar with the clemency process in New York (examples: Osborne Association, Release Aging People in Prison).
  • Reference online self-help resources like www.nycourts.gov/courthelp to access forms, instructions, and FAQs related to seeking a pardon.

Remember, receiving a pardon is all about demonstrating true rehabilitation and earning forgiveness. Constructing a persuasive application takes time and expertise. So don’t hesitate to call on others for assistance.


We hope this guide has helped demystify the pardon application process in New York City. The path is certainly rigorous. But taking the time to understand eligibility rules, compile a thorough petition, and clearly demonstrate your rehabilitation can pay off. With commitment to making amends for past mistakes and patience through an intensive review process, a gubernatorial pardon can help resolve old convictions.

If you or a loved one are considering applying for clemency in New York, use this article as a roadmap of what to expect. And don’t hesitate to tap into additional legal and advocacy resources around constructing the most compelling case possible. A pardon has the power to lift barriers and provide a long-awaited second chance.








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I was searching for a law firm with some power to help me deal with a warrant in New York . After 6 days I decided to go with Spodek Law Group. It helped that This law firm is well respected by not only the top law firms in New York , but the DA , Judge as well. I...

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