Utah’s Pardon Process

Stephen Howard — Stone River Law

Real Experience. Real Results.

The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole has authority to grant a pardon or commutation of a criminal conviction. This Board’s authority is used rarely and only in appropriate circumstances. For individuals who qualify and are approved for a pardon, the effect can be life-changing.

The process of applying for a pardon is long and can involve a variety of potential roadblocks. Having an experienced attorney to guide you through the process can help to give you the best chance of success.

Governor’s Pardon in Utah?

Unlike many other states, Utah’s constitution does not vest the pardon authority directly with the governor. Instead, Utah’s constitution formally establishes a Board of Pardons and Parole. Members of the Board are nominated by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. But once appointment to the Board is completed, the members of the Board act independently.

Pardon v. Commutation

The Board of Pardons has authority to either pardon or commute a criminal conviction. Under current Utah law, a pardon can have the same effect as an expungement — meaning that the records of the courts, prosecutors, and police are sealed. More significant for many. record of the conviction no longer appears on official BCI criminal history report.

If the Board chooses to grant a commutation rather than a full pardon, the record of the conviction can be modified to show a lower level of offense. Even a commutation of a conviction can help in restoring rights and re-opening opportunities.