Article IV, Section II, Paragraph II of the Georgia Constitution provides that the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles is “vested with the power of executive clemency, including the powers to grant reprieves, pardons, and paroles; to commute penalties; to remove disabilities imposed by law; and to remit any part of a sentence for any offense against the state after conviction.”
There essentially are two types of pardon granted by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles. The first type is a pardon based upon innocence. In its sixty-plus year history, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has granted fewer than five pardons based upon innocence.
The more common type of pardon is one which does not imply innocence. This type of pardon typically is sought by individuals with convictions on their records that serve as an impediment to obtaining employment. Although the conviction will still appear on the individual’s criminal history, a notation that the offense has been pardoned will also appear on the criminal history. In order to be eligible for this type of pardon, the individual must have been convicted under Georgia law; have completed the full sentence obligation, including service of any probated sentence and payment of any court-ordered fines; and the individual must have completed five years without any further criminal involvement. The five-year waiting period after sentence completion may be waived if the waiting period is shown to be detrimental to the individual’s livelihood.
No pardon is automatic. Rather, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles evaluates the merits of each individual case.