A "pardon" is an act of forgiveness, and the governor's power to pardon derives from the State Constitution.
Pardons are rarely issued, and are limited to truly extraordinary cases. For defendants whose petitions are granted, these pardons represent recognition of their hard work to not only redeem themselves following their crimes, but to also give back to their communities.
The pardon process involves three steps. First, a defendant files a petition with the State Clemency and Pardons Board, and requests a hearing. This Board consists of 3-5 people, and it meets four times per year. The Board will select only a few cases to be heard in each hearing.
If a defendant receives a hearing, then the Board will hear an oral argument, which can include live testimony. The Board then decides whether to recommend that the Governor grant the requested pardon.
The third step is the Governor's decision. The Governor is not bound by the Board's decision, and has the discretion to deny a pardon, even if the Board had recommended that the pardon be granted. The Governor is also under no time constraints to make a decision, and it can take upwards of a year to receive a decision back from the Governor's office.
If you have questions about the pardon
process in Washington State, we are here to help. Contact us here.
(Click HERE to watch Ryan Robertson's recent successful oral argument before the Clemency & Pardons Board)