Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Expungement of a Federal Crime ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Expungement of a Federal Crime
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: jellymankelly-ga
List Price: $40.00
Posted: 21 Feb 2005 12:23 PST
Expires: 23 Mar 2005 12:23 PST
Question ID: 478249
I need information on what the process is to expunge the record for a
federal crime.  The sentance carried no jail time, just a fine, but my
client would like it removed from his record.  Is this possible and
what is the procedure?
Subject: Re: Expungement of a Federal Crime
Answered By: legolas-ga on 21 Feb 2005 13:03 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi jellymankelly-ga,

I've found a variety of very useful links that explain the process.
Unfortunately, the process of obtaining a federal pardon is, well,
difficult. The US Department of Justice and the Office of the Pardon
Attorney are the ones who actually handle the pardon application and
process. You can find the website for the Pardon Attorney here:

"The Office of the Pardon Attorney, in consultation with the Attorney
General or his designee, assists the President in the exercise of
executive clemency as authorized under Article II, Section 2, of the
Constitution. Under the Constitution, the President's clemency power
extends only to federal criminal offenses. All requests for executive
clemency for federal offenses are directed to the Pardon Attorney for
investigation and review. The Pardon Attorney prepares the
Department's recommendation to the President for final disposition of
each application. Executive clemency may take several forms, including
pardon, commutation of sentence, remission of fine or restitution, and

The requirements for filing for a pardon are:

" 1.2 Eligibility for filing petition for pardon.

No petition for pardon should be filed until the expiration of a
waiting period of at least five years after the date of the release of
the petitioner from confinement or, in case no prison sentence was
imposed, until the expiration of a period of at least five years after
the date of the conviction of the petitioner. Generally, no petition
should be submitted by a person who is on probation, parole, or
supervised release."

Another researcher did a particularly good job of copying/pasting from
the website. You can view that researcher's answer (from 2002) here:

The previous answer includes some deep-links into the Pardon Attorney's website.

Another good resource is a website called, "12 Steps to a Federal
Pardon", which is found here:

The site is a bit dated (it talks about Bill Clinton as the current
president), but, informational nontheless.

The statistics on George W. Bush's Pardons are underwhelming (from
your client's point of view). According to this article on History
News Network, "President Bush's Pardons Suggest He's Not That
Compassionate" which can be found here:

The article states, in part, "George W. Bush is now notable for
issuing so few actions of clemency. In comparison to his 31, Clinton
averaged 228 during each of his administrations. George?s father
issued 77 during his term. Reagan averaged 203 during each of his
administrations. Carter issued 566 pardons or commutations, while Ford
issued 409."

Below, please find the actual text as to the Pardon Information and
Instructions as found on the US DOJ website. Since federal documents
are specifically not copyrightable, I am able to reproduce the
document here.

Information and Instructions on Pardons 

Please read carefully before completing the pardon application

1. Submit the petition to the Office of the Pardon Attorney

All petitions, except petitions relating to military offenses (see
paragraph 6 below), should be forwarded to the Office of the Pardon
Attorney, Department of Justice, 500 First Street N.W., Suite 400,
Washington, D.C. 20530. The completed pardon petition must be entirely
legible; therefore, please type or print in ink. The form must be
completed fully and accurately in order to be considered. You may
attach to the petition additional pages and documents that amplify or
clarify your answer to any question.

2. Federal convictions only

Under the Constitution, only federal criminal convictions, such as
those obtained in the United States District Courts, may be pardoned
by the President. In addition, the President's pardon power extends to
convictions obtained in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
and military court-martial proceedings. However, the President cannot
pardon a state criminal offense. Accordingly, if you are seeking
clemency for a state criminal conviction, you should not complete and
submit this petition. Instead, you should contact the Governor or
other appropriate authorities of the state where you reside or where
the conviction occurred (such as the state board of pardons and
paroles) to determine whether any relief is available to you under
state law. If you have a federal conviction, information about the
conviction may be obtained from the clerk of the federal court where
you were convicted.

3. Five-year waiting period required

Under the Department's rules governing petitions for executive
clemency, 28 C.F.R.  1.1 et seq., a minimum waiting period of five
years after completion of sentence is required before anyone convicted
of a federal offense becomes eligible to apply for a presidential
pardon. The waiting period, which is designed to afford the petitioner
a reasonable period of time in which to demonstrate an ability to lead
a responsible, productive and law-abiding life, begins on the date of
the petitioner's release from confinement. Alternatively, if the
conviction resulted in a sentence other than a term of imprisonment,
such as probation or a fine, the waiting period begins on the date of
sentencing. In addition, the petitioner should have satisfied the
penalty imposed, including all probation, parole, or supervised
release. Moreover, the waiting period begins upon release from
confinement for your most recent c onviction, whether or not this is
the offense for which pardon is sought. You may make a written request
for a waiver of this requirement. However, waiver of any portion of
the waiting period is rarely granted and then only in the most
exceptional circumstances. In order to request a waiver, you must
complete the pardon application form and submit it with a cover letter
explaining why you believe the waiting period should be waived in your

4. Reason for seeking pardon 

In answering question 20, you should state the specific purpose for
which you are seeking pardon and, if applicable, attach any relevant
documentary evidence that indicates how a pardon will help you
accomplish that purpose (such as citations to applicable provisions of
state constitutions, statutes, or regulations, or copies of letters
from appropriate officials of administrative agencies, professional
associations, licensing authorities, etc.). In addition, you should
bear in mind that a presidential pardon is ordinarily a sign of
forgiveness and is granted in recognition of the applicant's
acceptance of responsibility for the crime and established good
conduct for a significant period of time after conviction or release
from confinement. A pardon is not a sign of vindication and does not
connote or establish innocence. For that reason, when considering the
merits of a pardon petition, pardon officials take into account the
petitioner's acceptance of responsibility, remorse, and atonement for
the offense.

5. Multiple federal convictions

If you have more than one federal conviction, the most recent
conviction should be shown in response to question 2 of the petition
and the form completed as to that conviction. For all other federal
convictions, including convictions by military courts-martial, the
information requested in questions 2 through 6 of the petition should
be provided on an attachment. Any federal charges not resulting in
conviction should be reported in the space provided for prior and
subsequent criminal record (question 7).

6. Pardon of a military offense

If you are requesting pardon of a court-martial conviction only, you
should submit your completed petition directly to the Secretary of the
military department that had original jurisdiction in your case,
completing questions 2 through 6 and question 15 of the petition form
to show all pertinent information concerning your court-martial trial
and conviction. Pardon of a military offense will not change the
character of a military discharge. An upgrade or other change to a
military discharge may only be accomplished by action of the
appropriate military authorities. To apply for a review of a military
discharge, you should write to the relevant military branch, at the
address listed below:

Army Discharge Review Board
Crystal Mall 4
1941 Jefferson Davis Highway
Arlington, Virginia 22202-4508

Naval Discharge Review Board
Ballston Tower 2
801 North Randolph Street
Arlington, Virginia 22203-1989

Air Force Discharge Review Board
1535 Command Drive
Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland 20331-7002

7. Additional arrest record

In response to question 7, you must disclose any additional arrest or
charge by any civilian or military law enforcement authority,
including any federal, state, local, or foreign authority, whether it
occurred before or after the offense for which you are seeking pardon.
Your answer should list every violation, including traffic violations
that resulted in an arrest or criminal charge, such as driving under
the influence. Your failure to disclose any such arrest, whether or
not it resulted in conviction, may be construed as a falsification of
the petition.

8. Credit status and civil lawsuits

In response to question 14, you must list all delinquent credit
obligations, whether or not you dispute them. You must also list all
civil lawsuits in which you were named as a party, whether as
plaintiff or defendant, including bankruptcy proceedings. You must
also list all unpaid tax obligations, whether federal, state, or
local. You may submit explanatory material in connection with any of
these matters (such as an agreed method of payment for indebtedness).

9. Character references

At least three character affidavits must accompany the petition. If
you submit more than three, you should designate the three persons
whom you consider to be primary references. The affidavit forms
provided are preferred. However, letters of recommendation may be
substituted if they contain the full name, address, and telephone
number of the reference, indicate a knowledge of the offense for which
you seek pardon, and bear a notarized signature. Persons related to
you by blood or marriage cannot be used as primary character

10. Effect of a pardon

While a presidential pardon will restore various rights lost as a
result of the pardoned offense and should lessen to some extent the
stigma arising from a conviction, it will not erase or expunge the
record of your conviction. Therefore, even if you are granted a
pardon, you must still disclose your conviction on any form where such
information is required, although you may also disclose the fact that
you received a pardon. In addition, most civil disabilities attendant
upon a federal felony conviction, such as loss of the right to vote
and hold state public office, are imposed by state rather than federal
law, and also may be removed by state action. Because the federal
pardon process is exacting and may be more time-consuming than
analogous state procedures, you may wish to consult with the
appropriate authorities in the state of your residence regarding the
procedures for restoring your state civil rights.

11. Scope of investigation

Pardon officials conduct a very thorough review in determining a
petitioner's worthiness for relief. Accordingly, you should be
prepared for a detailed inquiry into your personal background and
current activities. Among the factors entering into this determination
are the nature, seriousness and recentness of the offense, your
overall criminal record, any specific hardship you may be suffering
because of the conviction, and the nature and extent of your
post-conviction involvement in community service, or charitable or
other meritorious activities. We encourage you to submit information
concerning your community contributions.

12. Exclusive Presidential authority

The power to grant pardons is vested in the President alone. No
hearing is held on the pardon application by either the Department of
Justice or the White House. You will be notified when a final decision
is made on your petition, and there is no appeal from the President's
decision to deny a clemency request. The Office of the Pardon Attorney
does not disclose information regarding the nature or results of any
investigation that may have been undertaken in a particular case, or
the exact point in the clemency process at which a particular petition
is pending at a given time. As a matter of well-established policy,
the specific reasons for the President's decision to grant or deny a
petition are generally not disclosed by either the White House or the
Department of Justice. In addition, documents reflecting deliberative
communications pertaining to presidential decision-making, such as the
Department's recommendation to the President in a clemency matter, are
confidential and not available under the Freedom of Information Act.
If your petition is denied, you may submit a new petition for
consideration two years from the date of denial.


I hope this helps. If you have any other questions, or if something
I've stated is unclear, please ask for clarification prior to rating
and thus closing this question.



Request for Answer Clarification by jellymankelly-ga on 22 Feb 2005 09:50 PST
Thank you so much for the information.  How can my client or is it
possible for my client to have the record expunged as can be done with
a state crime?  He wants to be able to put done no felony convictions
if asked the question and would also like the right to bear arms.  Is
that possible?

Clarification of Answer by legolas-ga on 22 Feb 2005 10:14 PST
Apparently the Presidential Pardon is the only way to go. Follow the
directions on the website I gave you to apply for the pardon, then
cross your fingers :)

jellymankelly-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Very helpful!

Subject: Re: Expungement of a Federal Crime
From: martinsz-ga on 22 Feb 2005 16:41 PST
The way I read it is that there is no way to (truthfully) get around
disclosing the fact that your client has a conviction:

"While a presidential pardon will restore various rights lost as a
result of the pardoned offense and should lessen to some extent the
stigma arising from a conviction, it will not erase or expunge the
record of your conviction. Therefore, even if you are granted a
pardon, you must still disclose your conviction on any form where such
information is required, although you may also disclose the fact that
you received a pardon."

And that's all she wrote.
Subject: Re: Expungement of a Federal Crime
From: jedsavage-ga on 04 Mar 2005 08:25 PST
There is a bill that has been introduced that would allow the
expungement of federal records. The Bill is HR 662 - Second Chance for
Ex-Offenders Act of 2005.

Please write your congressmen and ask them to support this bill. Also
write the member of any committee that the bill is currently in.
You can find a list of these people at

The latest status of the bill can be found at:

Here is a description of the bill.
Second Chance for Ex-Offenders Act of 2005 - Amends the Federal
criminal code to allow an individual to file a petition for
expungement of a record of conviction for a nonviolent criminal
offense if such individual has: (1) never been convicted of a violent
offense and has never been convicted of a nonviolent offense other
than the one for which expungement is sought; (2) fulfilled all
requirements of the sentence of the court in which conviction was
obtained; (3) remained free from dependency on or abuse of alcohol or
a controlled substance for a minimum of one year and has been
rehabilitated, to the court's satisfaction, if so required by the
terms of supervised release; (4) obtained a high school diploma or
completed a high school equivalency program; and (5) completed at
least one year of community service.
Authorizes an individual convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor to
file an expungement petition. Directs the court, in ruling on such
petition, after determining petitioner eligibility, to weigh the
petitioner's interests against the best interests of justice and
public safety.
Authorizes the Department of Justice to maintain a nonpublic manual or
computerized index of expunged records, to be made available only to
Federal and State law enforcement personnel who have custody of such
records for limited disclosure purposes.
Requires the restoration of expunged records of individuals
subsequently convicted of any Federal or State offense.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy