Frequently Asked Questions:
How does the pardon review process work?
Applications are first reviewed for eligibility. Due to the large volume of applications, it may take several months or more than a year for your application to be reviewed for eligibility.
If an applicant is eligible and their application is complete, their application is placed in line to be scheduled for hearing. Given the number of applications the Pardon Advisory Board receives, it may take months or years for an applicant to get before the Board after it has been determined that they’re eligible.
An eligible applicant will receive notice of a hearing approximately 5-weeks in advance which will include notice of date, time, and location of the hearing.
Before a hearing, applications receive a second, more thorough review. It is possible that a person who was initially determined to be eligible could be later identified as or deemed ineligible. In that case, the applicant would be notified that their case would no longer be heard by the Board.
After a hearing in front of the Board, the Board will vote to either recommend an applicant for pardon or not. If the applicant is recommended for pardon by a majority of members of the Board, the Governor then reviews that application and makes the final decision on whether to grant a pardon or not. If a majority of the Board does not recommend a pardon after hearing, then that applicant’s case is not forwarded to the Governor for consideration, and the applicant is denied.
There is no appeal process for denials or ineligibility determinations. However, a denied applicant can reapply in 18 months after their denial. Ineligible applicants should not reapply until they are eligible.
Who can apply for a pardon?
To be eligible for a Governor’s Pardon, you must:
Have been convicted of a felony in Wisconsin.
Have completed your sentence at least five years ago, including jail, prison, Huber, probation, community service, parole or supervision.
Have not been convicted of another crime since you completed your sentence. This does not include minor traffic charges (including a misdemeanor conviction for driving with a revoked or suspending license) or crimes prior to finishing your sentence.
Not currently be required to register as a sex offender.
Do I have to be a United States citizen to be eligible for a pardon?
Is a pardon the same thing as an expungement?
No. A pardon is a grant of forgiveness from the Governor that can restore certain civil rights and privileges, and relieve some legal disabilities. An expungement is granted by a judge and results in a conviction being sealed from public records. A pardon does not seal a record, but public records would reflect the pardon.
Is the Pardon Advisory Board the same as the Parole Commission?
No. Paroles and pardons are completely different things. The Pardon Advisory Board reviews eligible pardon applications and makes recommendations to the Governor on who to grant a pardon to. Only the Governor can grant a pardon. The Wisconsin Parole Commission is an independent commission that reviews requests for parole or early release from prison for sentences handed down for crimes committed before Dec. 31, 1999. The Governor does not have the power to parole people.
I do not meet the eligibility criteria listed in the application. May I ask that some or all the eligibility criteria be waived in my case?
Eligibility criteria are mandatory and cannot be waived. If you are unsure if you meet the requirements or not, or have a unique situation, questions can be emailed to email@example.com for clarification.
Is there a fee for filing a pardon application?
No. But there may be court fees associated with obtaining some of the documents required to accompany the application.
What if I have one felony conviction that is eligible for pardon, but an earlier felony conviction that is not eligible for pardon under the current eligibility criteria?
This happens most often when someone has a felony conviction from many years ago, completes their sentence on that case in its entirety, years pass, and then the same person picks up a whole new felony conviction later. In these cases, the first felony conviction is not eligible for pardon because the second case violates the requirement that you "have not been convicted of any new criminal offense since you completed your sentence." However, the second conviction may be eligible assuming all other eligibility criteria are met. In this case, an applicant with this "split eligibility" will be scheduled after applicants without ineligible felony convictions have been heard by the Pardon Advisory Board. Even then, only the eligible conviction will be scheduled for review by the Pardon Advisory Board.
What if I already sent a pardon request to a prior administration?
You must re-apply using the current pardon application established by the Office of Governor Evers. In the interests of uniformity and fairness, only applications that have been completed using the current form will be considered.
Where can I obtain certified copies of the requested court records?
You should contact the clerk of courts in the county of your conviction. A certified copy is signed by the clerk of courts in order to verify its authenticity and accuracy. Uncertified copies will not be accepted.
What if the clerk of courts cannot find copies of the requested documents?
Ask the clerk of courts to mail a letter stating this to:
Office of the Governor
Attn: Pardon Advisory Board
PO Box 7863
Madison, WI 53707
Must my application be notarized?
Yes, you must have your application signed and stamped by a licensed notary. Notaries can typically be found at the bank, the post office or the courthouse, or remote notarization (i.e. through videoconferencing) is available.
Do I need an attorney to complete a pardon application?
No, you do not need an attorney to complete a pardon application
Can I submit letters of recommendation or letters of support?
Yes. Letters of recommendation are strongly encouraged. It is best to include these letters as part of your application. By having people independently send letters after submission of your application packet we are unable to guarantee that those supplementary materials will be included in the review of your application.
Am I required to notify the victim in my case of the fact that I am applying for pardon?
If I receive a hearing, will the victim have a say in my application?
The perspectives and opinions of any victim will be an important consideration for the Pardon Advisory Board.
What if the judge or district attorney who handled my original case is no longer available?
If this occurs you still need to send the notice in the application to either the Clerk of Courts for judicial input or the District Attorney’s office for district attorney input. What typically happens is that they will have an available judge or district attorney review the case and provide their input based on the information they have. Including a cover letter on why you are seeking a pardon, or application materials, could be beneficial for the judge or district attorney regarding their input.
What is the Pardon Advisory Board's contact information?
Application materials should go to:
Office of the Governor
Attn: Pardon Advisory Board
PO Box 7863
Madison, WI 53707
If you want to find out whether an application has been received, you can email GovPardons@wisconsin.gov. If you do not have access to email, you can contact (608) 266-1212 to confirm receipt of your application. Milwaukee area applicants are also encouraged to call (414) 227-4344. However, details regarding when exactly your application may be reviewed, what the “chances" are for your application, or other related inquiries will not be answered by staff.
Will I know if my application has been found ineligible or if I have been granted a hearing?
Yes. You will be notified if you are found ineligible for a pardon. Similarly, if you've been granted a hearing, you will receive notice of date, time, and location of the hearing approximately four weeks in advance. Hearings are currently being done via Zoom and not in-person.
The current pardon application says only felony convictions are eligible. What if I have a misdemeanor conviction associated with the felony that I am seeking a pardon for?
If an applicant is seeking a pardon for a primary charge which is a felony, he or she may also request that the Board consider pardoning the associated misdemeanor(s). An “associated” misdemeanor for this purpose refers to (a) an offense that was resolved at the same time as the felony conviction you want to have pardoned or (b) an offense that resulted in a conviction while you were serving the sentence for the felony conviction you wanted to have pardoned. Any eligible misdemeanor offense that an applicant lists in Question 2 of the official pardon application must be accompanied by a certified copy of the complaint and judgement of conviction to be considered.
The Board is not considering individuals convicted solely of misdemeanors at this time.
The current pardon application says I cannot be convicted of any new criminal offense since I completed my sentence. Does this include misdemeanors or traffic offenses?
This does include misdemeanor convictions, except for criminal traffic convictions for driving with a revoked or suspended license. A criminal DUI/OWI conviction that occurred after the offense for which you seek to be pardoned is disqualifying.
Can I email my completed pardon application instead of mailing it?
No. You must mail your completed application to the address provided in the application. Please make sure to retain a copy of your completed application for your own records.
Will applications on behalf of deceased individuals be eligible for pardon?
I've been granted a hearing – now what?
You must be present for your hearing before the Pardon Advisory Board. Hearings are currently being held via teleconference. The hearing will last approximately 15 minutes. The Board will ask you questions about yourself and your application. You may present supporting witnesses, but any testimony presented by these witnesses will leave you less time to present your own case to the Board. You will not be afforded additional time in order to present your witnesses.
If I am granted a hearing with the Pardon Advisory Board, do I need an attorney to represent me?
No. However, you may hire one at your own expense.
What does the Pardon Advisory Board do?
The Board holds hearings to access eligible and complete applications. It then makes a recommendation to the Governor. If a majority of the Board recommends granting a pardon, the application is presented to the Governor, who may or may not grant a pardon. The decision to pardon remains wholly within the Governor's discretion.
What factors do the Pardon Advisory Board consider?
All applicants that receive a hearing will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The following factors may be considered:
The seriousness of the crime you are seeking a pardon for.
Your entire criminal record.
The length of time since the crime in question was committed.
Your personal development and progress since the crime was committed, such as:
Your employment, training, education, community service and civic activities.
Detailed letters of recommendation documenting firsthand knowledge of an applicant's development and progress.
Your ability to demonstrate a significant and documented need for a pardon, such as employment, schooling, job training, or the desire to hold public office.
If applicable and possible, an applicant should submit a letter from a prospective employer, licensing agency, school, or training program in order to demonstrate this need.
If applicable and possible, the applicant should also provide written documentation of significant steps taken in pursuit of the sought employment, schooling, job training, or public office.
Undocumented or over-generalized claims that an applicant needs a pardon will generally be held insufficient to warrant pardon.
Does a hearing have to be public?
Yes. By law, the public (including media) may attend meetings of the Pardon Advisory Board.
Can I appeal a denial or finding of ineligibility?
No. Neither decision is appealable.
Can I re-file after a denial?
Yes, but you must wait 18 months after the date on the notice of denial.