Frequently Asked Questions


Parole & Parole Hearings

  1. What is parole? This link points to content lower on this page.
  2. What is a parole hearing? This link points to content lower on this page.
  3. What can result from a parole hearing? This link points to content lower on this page.
  4. Do offenders refused parole serve the entire sentence in custody? This link points to content lower on this page.
  5. Can I request that the offender's parole hearings be "open"? This link points to content lower on this page.
  6. When are offenders eligible for parole hearings? This link points to content lower on this page.
  7. What does the Commission consider when it makes a decision for or against parole? This link points to content lower on this page.
  8. Is knowing the crime's impact on the victim important in making a parole decision? This link points to content lower on this page.
  9. How do I inform the Commission about the crime's effect on me? This link points to content lower on this page.
  10. Can an offender be paroled the same day as the parole hearing? This link points to content lower on this page.
  11. How will I know when the offender is released? This link points to content lower on this page.
  12. What if I am afraid the offender will contact me after release? This link points to content lower on this page.
  13. What is a Mutual Agreement Programming (MAP) negotiation? This link points to content lower on this page.
  14. What is a parole violation (revocation) hearing? This link points to content lower on this page.
  15. Can I designate someone else to represent me for notification purposes? This link points to content lower on this page.
  16. What happens if I move, or my designated representative moves? This link points to content lower on this page.
  17. What percentage of a sentence may the average nonviolent offender expect to serve before being considered for parole? This link points to content lower on this page.
  18. What factors does a Commissoiner consider when deciding whether or not an offender should be paroled? This link points to content lower on this page.
  19. Do Commissioners want to be made aware of the sentencing judge's thoughts with regard to whether or when and offender should be considered for parole? This link points to content lower on this page.
  20. In light of the Governor's decision regarding inmates serving life sentences, are there procedures in place for them to receive hearings? This link points to content lower on this page.
  21. Does Parole continue to give hearings to Violent Offenders? This link points to content lower on this page.
  22. If a parolee is held pretrial for a charge that does NOT result in conviction, is that awarded toward his/her time spent on parole? This link points to content lower on this page.


Q1. What is parole?

Parole is the discretionary and conditional release of an offender into the community to continue serving the sentence under supervision by an agent of the Division of Parole and Probation, until the offender’s obligation to the State for the offense-the sentence-reaches maximum expiration. If the parolee violates any of the conditions of parole, the offender is subject to revocation and reincarceration.

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Q2. What is a parole hearing?

A parole hearing is an interview of the offender. The interview is intended to obtain information from (and about) the offender that, in addition to information already available to the Commission, including input from the victim, will form the basis for the parole decision.

Most parole hearings are conducted by a Hearing Officer, who makes a recommendation to a Parole Commissioner. If the offender is serving a life sentence or has been convicted of any form of homicide, the hearing is conducted by a panel of two Commissioners. Also present is the institutional Case Manager assigned to the offender’s case.

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Q3. What can result from a parole hearing?

The three primary results of a parole hearing are:

  • refuse parole;
  • rehear at a specified time in the future; or
  • approve for parole release.

Offenders refused parole do not have any more hearings.

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Q4. Do offenders refused parole serve the entire sentence in custody?

No. Almost all offenders earn sentence credits (e.g., for good behavior and institutional assignments) that are subtracted from the time they must spend incarcerated. Offenders who are not approved for parole will be released prior to the maximum expiration of sentence to continue serving the sentence in the community. However, because their release is under conditions exactly like those of parole, their release may be revoked by the Parole Commission for misbehavior.

If you have requested notification, the Division of Correction will notify you before the offendeer reaches the mandatory supervision release date or expiration of sentence, or if the the offender is court-released, escapes, or dies.

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Q5. Can I request that the offender's parole hearing be "open"?

Only if you are the adult victim, or the surviving family menber of a deceased victim, of certain specific crimes. The Commission will send you complete information about "open parole hearings"; if that is an option for you.

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Q6. When are offenders eligible for parole hearings?

Most initial parole hearings are conducted for offenders when they have served approximately 25% of their total sentence. However, some offenders receive their first hearing before the 25% mark; others who have committed certain violent crimes must serve 50% before their hearing. Offenders serving life sentences become eligible for parole consideration after serving 15 or 25 years, depending upon the circumstances of the conviction.

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Q7. What does the Commission consider when it makes a decision for or against parole?

By law, the Commission must consider the following criteria when making any decisions about parole:

  • The circumstances surrounding the crime;
  • The offender’s physical, mental, and moral qualifications;
  • The offender’s progress during confinement;
  • Whether there is a reasonable probability the offender will not violate the law if paroled;
  • Whether the offender’s parole would be compatible with the welfare of society;
  • Any original or updated victim impact statement, and/or any information presented by the victim at a meeting with a Commissioner and/or at the time of an open parole hearing; and
  • Any sentencing judge’s recommendation.

In assessing these criteria, the Commission may also consider other relevant information, such as:

  • Prior criminal and juvenile record:
  • Prior substance abuse;
  • Attitude and emotional maturity;
  • Home and employment plans.

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Q8. Is knowing the crime’s impact on the victim important in making a parole decision?

Yes. Information from the victim is important in assessing the true nature, extent, and impact of the crime. The Commission is also sensitive to the special vulnerabilities of certain victims to specific kinds of crime.

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Q9. How do I inform the Commission about the crime’s effect on me?

You may submit in writing at any time any information that you believe the Commission should have before reaching a decision in the offender’s case. The Commission regards your written submission as the equivalent of a "victim impact statement;" it will be maintained in the offender’s parole file for review at any time the offender’s parole status is reviewed, whether for a parole or revocation hearing, or for a MAP negotiation.

If an official Victim Impact Statement was completed as part of the Pre-Sentence Investigation for the court prior to the offender’s sentencing, you may also request that an Updated Victim Impact Statement be completed prior to the offender’s parole hearing. This Updated Impact Statement may be reviewed by the offender.

You may also request to speak personally to a Commissioner at Parole Commission headquarters. The substance of your meeting will be summarized by the Commissioner and placed in the parole file for review by the Commission prior to any subsequent parole consideration.

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Q10. Can an offender be paroled the same day as the parole hearing?

No. All offenders approved for parole must meet certain pre-release conditions, including a cerified and approved home plan. Many offenders must also complete certain special programs before they can be released.

The majority of parole approvals call for a "delayed" release, meaning that the offender will be released in a future month/year, but only upon completion of specified pre-release requirements.

If the offender fails to meet the pre-release conditions, or breaks institutional rules, the parole approval may be suspended and another hearing ordered. You would be notified in this eventuality.

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Q11. How will I know when the offender is released?

If you have requested notification, you will be notified by the Parole Commission in advance of any parole release date, and of any special conditions attached to the parole. The Division of Correction will also notify you in advance of a mandatory supervision release date. Each agency will also inform you in advance of the location and telephone number of the office of the Division of Parole and Probation to which the offender is required to report.

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Q12. What if I am afraid the offender will contact me after release?

Upon your request, the Parole Commission may consider placing a special condition of "no contact" with you while the offender is under parole or mandatory release supervision. However, this is NOT the equivalent of a "stay away" (or "ex parte" or "restraining") order; the police CANNOT arrest a releasee solely for an alleged violation of a special condition of release. If the offender contacts you, notify the offender’s parole agent.

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Q13. What is a Mutual Agreement Programming (MAP) negotiation?

Certain offenders who meet specified criteria may negotiate a MAP contract with the Division of Correction and the Parole Commission. The MAP contract outlines an individualized program whose requirements the offender must fulfill according to a detailed timetable. So long as those requirements are met, the offender is guaranteed a future parole release date. If an offender fails to successfully negotiate the MAP contract, or if the contract is canceled before the release date, the offender’s parole status reverts to the normal parole hearing schedule. You will be notified if the offender is scheduled for a MAP negotiation process, and what the result is.

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Q14. What is a parole violation (revocation) hearing?

If a releasee is alleged to have violated one or more of the conditions of release, a parole violation hearing may be scheduled based on a warrant or a subpoena. If the offender is found guilty of violating the conditions of release, the release may be revoked and the offender may have to serve the balance of the original sentence. You will be notified if a warrant or subpoena is issued, when a revocation hearing is scheduled, and the res ult of the hearing.

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Q15. Can I designate someone else to represent me for notificat ion purposes?

Yes. Simply make sure to identify the person and provide an accurate mailing address.

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Q16. What happens if I move, or my designated representative moves?

If you fail to notify the Commission about the new mailing address, you may miss being notified about any changes in the offender’s parole status, or results of the offender’s parole hearings.

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Q17. What percentage of a sentence may the average nonviolent offender expect to serve before being considered for parole?

Releases in this category range from one-fourth of the sentence imposed all the way to Mandatory Supervision Release. In fact, many "12 month and under offenders" choose to decline a parole hearing and simply "Mandatory" out. Boot Camp "Part One" participants go home in 6 months, some offenders go home after their initial hearing. Statistics show that non-643B offenders serve "on average" 55% of their sentence.

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Q18. What factors does a Commissoiner consider when deciding whether or not an offender should be paroled?

We look at multiple factores when conducting a parole grant (initial) hearing. These include, but are not limited to: the nature and circumstance of the offense; victim input; history and pattern offenses; prior major incarcerations; insitutional adjustment; rehabilitation; prgramming needs; home plans and employment readiness.

Note: The nature and circumstance of the offense is a "static" factor and should not be considered in the first hearing. The decision to grant, refuse, or set a rehearing date is put in place at the initial hearing. Future hearings are set to examine the progress of the individual through the system.]

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Q19. Do Commissioners want to be made aware of the sentencing judge's thoughts with regard to whether or when and offender should be considered for parole?

Indeed we do. Parole remains a discretionary decision, of course, but we do need to know your thoughts. This committee hopes to identify a way to do that. It could be as simple as a check-off on the guideline worksheet. This is a topic the Joint Committee on Parole Issues will consider.

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Q20. In light of the Governor's decision regarding inmates serving life sentences, are there procedures in place for them to receive hearings?

Yes. The Commission continues to conduct parole hearings for 'lifers' according to its statutory mandate. Eligibility is still 15 years for life with parole. Someone sentenced to life as a result of a proceeding pursuant to Article 27 §413 (death penalty) is not eligible for parole considerations until he/she has served 25 years.

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Q21. Does Parole continue to give hearings to Violent Offenders?

Since October 1, 1994 the eligibility for a violent offense is 50% of sentence. Pre-1994, the parole eligibility is 25%, the same eligibility for non-violent offenders. The BENCH CARD mailed from the Commission lists the crimes and eligibility requirements.

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Q22. If a parolee is held pretrial for a charge that does NOT result in conviction, is that awarded toward his/her time spent on parole?

This decision is discretionary. The Commissioner who conducts a revocation hearing may award this lapse of time between release and the violation hearing. Since the parolee will not have "new" time, the balance of the original sentence will be served under community supervision.

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Victims Rights Related to Open Parole Hearings

Q1. Am I a victim?

A victim as defined by Parole Commission rules is an individual who suffers personal harm or death as a direct result of a crime OR, if the victim is deceased, a designated family member of the victim OR, if the victim is under 18 years old, the parent or legal guardian of the victim.

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Q2. Was the crime committed against me a "violent" crime?

The crimes the Parole Commission defines as "violent" include:

  • abduction
  • arson
  • assault first degree
  • burglary
  • carjacking
  • child abuse
  • rape
  • robbery
  • sexual offense first and second degrees
  • escape
  • housebreaking
  • kidnapping
  • maiming and mayhem
  • manslaughter (except involuntary manslaughter)
  • murder
  • use of a handgun
  • attempts to commit (and assaults with intent to commit) certain crimes

There are exceptions to this list, depending upon when the offense was committed.

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Q3. Do I have a right to attend a parole hearing?

Effective October 1, 1994, a victims of violent crimes had the right to request that an offender’s parole hearing be made an OPEN hearing, so that the victim could attend. Since then, the types of crimes for which victims may request an open hearing have been expanded. The Commission advises victims whether the offense is one for which an open parole hearing may be requested.

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Q4. What is an "open" parole hearing?

It is the same as a "regular" parole hearing, except it has been made open to public attendance by the request of the victim (as defined above). All parole hearings are conducted by a hearing officer or a panel of two Commissioners, who interview the offender. A determination - based on statutory criteria - is made as to whether or not the offender should be released on parole.

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Q5. What happens as a result of a parole hearing?

The Commission issues three primary types of parole decisions:

  • Refuse: The offender will not have any more parole hearings.
  • Rehear: The offender will receive another hearing at a specified time in the future.
  • Approve: The offender, upon meeting certain pre-release conditions, will be released to continue serving his or her sentence under parole supervision in the community. You will be notified in advance of the parole release date.

Victims who have requested notification of an offender's parole status will always be notified of any changes made by the Parole Commission to the offender's parole status.

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Q6. Who may request an open parole hearing?

You may request an open parole hearing if you are the victim, the designated family member, or the parent or legal guardian of the minor victim, and:

  1. the offense is a violent crime.
  2. The crimes the Parole Commission defines as "violent" include:

    • abduction
    • arson
    • assault first degree
    • burglary
    • carjacking
    • child abuse
    • rape
    • robbery
    • sexual offense first and second degrees
    • escape
    • housebreaking
    • kidnapping
    • maiming and mayhem
    • manslaughter (except involuntary manslaughter)
    • murder
    • use of a handgun
    • attempts to commit (and assaults with intent to commit) certain crimes

    OR;
  3. the offense is a crime of domestic violence as defined in the Family Law Article 4-501 relating to civil protective orders which includes crimes against:
    1. a current or former spouse of the respondent (offender);
    2. a cohabitant of the respondent (offender);
    3. a person related to the respondent (offender) by blood, marriage, or adoption;
    4. a parent, stepparent, child, or stepchild of the respondent (offender) under certain circumstances;
    5. a vulnerable adult; or
    6. an individual who has a child in common with the respondent (offender), OR;

  4. the offense resulted in personal physical injury or death.
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Q7. How do I request an open hearing?

Write to the Parole Commission requesting notification of the offender’s parole status. Your request MUST be on file at least four months prior to the offender’s "regular" parole hearing so that the Parole Commission can accommodate your request for an open hearing. You will be sent a form titled, "Victim’s Request for An Open Parole Release Hearing" approximately 6-12 months in advance of the "regular" parole hearing. Once you complete and return the form, the open hearing will be scheduled and you will be provided with full information about date, time, and location.

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Q8. Can someone accompany me to the open hearing?

Yes. Any victim can be accompanied by one companion who is at least 18 years old. If you are a victim under the age of 18, you MUST be accompanied by a companion who is your parent, guardian, or other person over 18.

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Q9. Who else can attend an open hearing?

Other individuals permitted to attend may include members of the victim’s or the offender’s family, members of the media (who are not allowed to bring any recording devices), or anyone who is interested and is at least 18 years old. Seating is very limited due to physical limitations of the correctional facilities and security requirements. Generally, no more than 8 people will be approved to attend an open parole hearing.

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Q10. How do other persons apply to attend an open hearing?

Once the open hearing is scheduled, interested persons (including members of the victim’s or the offender’s family) must submit a written request for the form titled, "Application to Attend an Open Parole Release Hearing" as soon as possible. They will be permitted to attend if they are at least 18 years old and if space permits. No one may attend an open parole hearing without prior written authorization from the Parole Commission.

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Q11. Where will the open hearing be held?

For Offenders sentenced to corrections, the open hearing will be held inside one of the State correctional institutions located in Baltimore City, or in Allegany, Howard, Somerset, or Washington Counties, depending on where the offender is housed. If the offender is sentenced to a county jail or detention center, the open hearing will be held there.

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Q12. Will the offender see me at the open hearing?

You must assume that the offender WILL see you and other attendees at the time of the open hearing. However, no contact or communication is permitted.

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Q13. Can I say something at the open hearing?

Yes. The victim (or victim's designee who is approved to attend the hearing) may make an oral statement up to 5 minutes in length at the beginning of the hearing. A written copy of the oral statement may be submitted at that time (no other written materials will be accepted). The offender will not be allowed to respond.

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Q14. What if the open hearing is NOT held?

An offender may request to cancel or postpone the open hearing not less than 30 days prior to the hearing. If the Parole Commission finds good cause for the request, it will be granted and you will be notified. However, any future request by the offender for a hearing will result in another open hearing about which you will be notified and be permitted to attend. Although the offender may refuse to appear at the open hearing, that would not constitute good cause to postpone the hearing.

Other reasons for postponement would include weather and administrative emergencies; in these cases, the open hearing would be automatically rescheduled.

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Q15. What if I do NOT request an open hearing?

The decision to request an open parole hearing is yours alone to make. You may even request an open parole hearing but not attend personally. Whatever decision you make will be the right decision for YOU.

If you do not request (or choose not to attend) an open hearing, you may submit a written statement concerning the impact of the crime on you and your family. All such statements will be carefully reviewed prior to any hearing. You may also request an appointment to discuss the case with a Parole Commissioner.

Click here for more information on the Maryland Parole Commission Victim Services Unit

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Pardons

Q1. What is a pardon?

"Pardon" means an act of clemency in which the Governor, by order, absolves the grantee from the guilt of the grantee's criminal acts and exempts the grantee from any penalties imposed by law for those criminal acts.

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Q2. What is a conditional pardon?

"Conditional pardon" means a pardon that is dependent on compliance with conditions precedent or subsequent that the Governor specifies in the written order granting the pardon.

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Q3. What is a partial pardon?

"Partial pardon" means a pardon that has been limited by the terms of the order granting the pardon to be of less effect than a full pardon.

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Q4. What is a commutation of sentence?

"Commutation of sentence" means an act of clemency in which the Governor, by order, substitutes a lesser penalty for the grantee's offense for the penalty imposed by the court in which the grantee was convicted.

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Q5. What is a conditional commutation of sentence?

"Conditional commutation of sentence" means a commutation of sentence that is dependent on compliance with conditions precedent or subsequent that the Governor specifies in the written order granting the commutation.

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Q6. Who may request a pardon?

The guidelines regarding who may apply for a pardon are as follows:

  • No petition for pardon shall be considered while the petitioner is incarcerated.
  • Misdemeanants must have been crime-free from the date of sentence, released from incarceration, or released from parole or probation whichever last occurred, for a period of five years.
  • Except as provided in the next paragraph, felons must have been crime-free from the date of sentence, released from incarceration, or released from parole or probation, whichever last occurred for ten years except, however, the Parole Commission may, at its discretion and in specific instances, consider cases in which only seven years have elapsed.
  • Felons convicted of crimes of violence as defined in Article 27, Section 643B and felons convicted of controlled dangerous substance violations must have been crime-free from the date of sentence, released from incarceration, or released from parole or probation, whichever last occurred, for twenty years except, however, the Parole Commission may, at its discretion and in specific instances, consider cases in which only fifteen years have elapsed.

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Q7. What factors shall be considered in connection with a petitioner's request for a pardon?

The factors that shall be considered in connection with a petitioner's request for a pardon are:

  • The nature and circumstances of the crime.
  • The effect of a pardon on the victim and community.
  • The sentence given.
  • The other anti-social behavior of the petitioner.
  • The subsequent rehabilitation of the petitioner.
  • The age and health of the petitioner.
  • The reason the pardon is needed.

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Q8. Can I have my voting rights restored in Maryland if I have previously been convicted of a felony?

Effective, July 1, 2007, if you have been convicted of a felony and have completed serving a court-ordered sentence of imprisonment, including any term of parole or probation for the conviction, you are eligible to register to vote.

You do not qualify to register to vote if you have been convicted of buying or selling votes.

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Q9. How can I obtain more information about becoming a registered voter without the need for a pardon?

You may contact the State Board of Elections at 410-269-2840 or toll-free 1-800-222-8683. Their e-mail address is sep@elections.state.md.us. The State Board of Elections website is www.elections.state.md.us.

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Q10. How may I obtain an application for a pardon?

If, after reading the pardon guidelines provided in answer number 6 above you believe that you are eligible to apply for a pardon, write to the following address and indicate that you would like to have a pardon application mailed to you. Please remember to include your complete mailing address, including your zip code or you can download the application from our website.

Pardon Application
Maryland Parole Commission
6776 Reisterstown Road, Suite 307
Baltimore, MD 21215-2343

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Q11. I have read the pardon guidelines listed in the answer to question number 6 and I am uncertain as to whether I am able to apply for a pardon. Is there a telephone number that I can call for additional information?

Yes, there is a telephone number that you may call for additional information. The number is 410-585-3200 or toll-free 1-877-241-5428. Ask to speak with the "Pardon Application Coordinator."

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Q12. If I am granted a pardon, will the record of my criminal conviction be expunged (erased)?

The granting of a pardon for an individual's criminal conviction does not automatically expunge or erase the record of the conviction. The granting of a pardon results in an entry in police records and court records that a pardon has been granted. Criminal Procedure Article 10-105(c)(3) provides that a petition for expungement based on a full and unconditional pardon by the Governor may not be filed later than 10 years after the pardon was signed by the Governor. A petition for expungement is to be filed with the court where the conviction occurred and not with the Parole Commission.

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