Gov. John Hickenlooper granted public forgiveness for 23 people with criminal records in Colorado on Friday.
A pardon from the governor is one of the only options for adults to erase their criminal records in this state, and it’s an exceedingly rare opportunity.
All of the pardoned people had finished their sentences and become “contributing members of their communities,” the governor’s office announced. Hundreds of people have applied for Hickenlooper’s pardon.
Among those pardoned today, the most common criminal offenses involved drugs, theft and fraud. One man also was pardoned for an attempted vehicular assault in 2004, while others had been convicted of misdemeanor assault, felony trespassing and aggravated robbery.
“The chance of getting a pardon largely depends on individual circumstances,” states the website of Colorado criminal defense attorney H. Michael Steinberg. “The older and less serious the conviction, and the more compelling the life story is, the higher the chance of getting a pardon.”
The oldest conviction dated to 1976, and the most recent was in 2005.
With pardons in hand, people convicted of felonies can apply to restore their right to possess firearms. The pardon also makes it more likely people can get government-issue licenses and certificates for jobs, and they will be allowed to work with students, people with mental health issues and others, according to the Office of the State Public Defender.
People who don’t get pardons still can have certain criminal records sealed in Colorado, but their convictions still may be uncovered by a background check, according to the Restoration of Rights Project.
Hickenlooper has pardoned 89 people as governor, according to his office.
Letters to the pardoned people, signed by Hickenlooper, described the steps that the individuals had taken, such as supporting their children, and the opportunities they were denied, from hunting with family to volunteering at their children’s schools.
The process of gaining a pardon includes input from victims judges, prosecutors and others.
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