What is the difference between a pardon and expungement?

A criminal charge on your record in Missouri means you lose some of your rights. You may also have certain conditions of your conviction that last for years. For many people, having a criminal charge haunts them far into the future and impacts everything from where they can live to where they can work. There are a couple options for fixing your criminal record and moving on from it. These include a pardon and an expungement. They are two very different options, though.

The Restoration of Right Project explains an expungement is when the court seals your record. It is no longer accessible except through the court and by law enforcement. It is as if you never had the charge at all. Along with clearing your record, this procedure also restores any civil rights you lost due to the conviction. You must request an expungement through the court, but there is a waiting period after your conviction before you can do it. It also involves a hearing where you have to prove you are no longer a threat to the public and that you are not likely to commit another crime in the future. It also is only an option for certain, non-violent crimes.

A pardon, on the other hand, is granted by the governor. They do not happen as often as an expungement. If you get pardoned, it does not clear your record. It is merely a restoration of rights. The governor relieves you of any conditions of your conviction as well. There is an investigation done by the Board of Probation and Parole. The board also makes a recommendation, but the governor is not bound by it. This information is for education and is not legal advice.