Clearing Criminal Records Can Help Address Racial Inequities in the Justice System

 Posted on November 06,2020 in Criminal Defense

Hartford criminal law attorney for pardons and expungementRacial inequality is one of the many issues that have been on people’s minds in 2020. Black Lives Matter protests erupted in the wake of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others not only because of these unnecessary deaths, but because the criminal justice system is unfairly biased against people of color. Black people are arrested, charged, and convicted of crimes at much higher rates than white people, and this has led to our current system of mass incarceration.

Even if a person is not convicted of a felony or does not end up in jail, criminal charges can have far-reaching effects on their lives. While Connecticut passed a “ban the box” law in 2017 that prohibits prospective employers from asking about a person’s criminal arrests, charges, or convictions on an application, background checks may still be performed during the hiring process, making it more difficult for those with a criminal record to find employment. A criminal record can also affect a person’s ability to find housing, pursue educational opportunities, or participate in children’s school activities.

All of this adds up to limited opportunities and ongoing problems for people of color who become involved in the criminal justice system. While white people are often able to move on from their past mistakes, Black or Hispanic people and other minorities usually do not have the same luxury, and they can end up paying the price for years after they are arrested or convicted. Because of this, advocates for criminal justice reform believe that more pardons should be issued to clear the criminal records of those who have completed their sentences.

Criminal Pardons in Connecticut

Under Connecticut’s current system, an Absolute Pardon may be granted in the following circumstances:

  • A person was convicted of a felony, and five years have passed since the date of conviction.

  • A person was convicted of a misdemeanor, and three years have passed since the date of conviction.

  • Criminal charges were “nolled,” or dropped by a prosecutor, and at least 13 months have passed since the charges were dropped.

  • A person’s case was dismissed or they received a “not guilty” verdict.

A person is not eligible to apply for a pardon if they have any open criminal cases in any state or federal jurisdiction or if they are currently on probation or parole. To receive a pardon, a person must submit an application to the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Paroles. In some cases involving convictions of non-violent offenses, a person’s application may receive an Expedited Review, while in others, they must attend a hearing. If a pardon is granted, a person’s applicable criminal records will be erased.

Contact a Hartford Criminal Defense Attorney

The process of applying for a pardon is very complex, and an application must include detailed information about previous convictions, violations, and infractions, as well as references from at least three people regarding an applicant’s personal character. Our Connecticut criminal defense lawyer can assist with the pardon application process and help you take the right steps to clear your criminal record. To arrange a free consultation and learn more about how we can help with your case, contact the Woolf Law Firm, LLC at 860-290-8690.


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