A full pardon restores certain citizenship rights forfeited by law as the result of a criminal conviction, such as the right to serve on a jury, the right to hold public office, and the right to serve as Executor or Administrator of an estate. A full pardon removes barriers to some, but not all, types of employment and professional licensing. Licenses are granted at the discretion of the state licensing boards of each profession, and it's advisable to contact those boards directly to learn whether a pardon is necessary or sufficient to restore licensing eligibility. A person who is convicted and who receives a full pardon is entitled to an expunction of all arrest and court records relating to the conviction. Importantly, an arrest is not automatically expunged upon the grant of a full pardon.
Interestingly, in Texas voting rights are automatically restored when a person discharges a felony sentence. Effective September 1, 1997 the legislature restored voting rights to felons convicted in Texas once a person fully discharges the felony sentence, including any term of incarceration, parole, or supervision, or completes a period of probation ordered by any court. See Texas Election Code, sec. 11.002.
A person with a conditional pardon remains subject to conditions of release. A conditional pardon does not restore civil rights or rights of citizenship, and the governor can revoke the pardon if a person does not comply with the conditions of release. A pardon based on actual innocence exonerates the person of the crime and erases the conviction. To consider a pardon for innocence, the Board requires either evidence of actual innocence from at least two trial officials, or the findings of fact and conclusions of law from the district judge in a state habeas action indicating actual innocence.
Applying for executive clemency is a service many Texas criminal defense attorneys provide for prospective clients. Next time we'll look at the application process and how a good defense lawyer can help the client navigate these tricky waters.