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Board of Pardons

Minnesota offers people who have been convicted of a crime under state law the opportunity to receive a pardon of their conviction or a commutation of their sentence. A pardon is an act of forgiveness that has the effect of setting aside a conviction and lifting many of its lingering consequences. A commutation is the substitution of a lesser punishment for the original sentence imposed by a court. 

The Minnesota Board of Pardons (Board), which consists of the Governor, the Minnesota Attorney General, and the Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, may grant a pardon or commutation to individuals who meet basic eligibility requirements set forth in state law. To receive a pardon or commutation, the Governor and at least one other Board member must vote in favor of clemency. The Board holds two public meetings each year, typically in the fall/winter and spring/summer, to consider and vote on eligible clemency applications.

In May 2023, the Minnesota Legislature passed significant reforms to the state's clemency process, which will apply to all applications received by the Board after December 1, 2023. The most notable changes to Minnesota's clemency process are:

  • There is no longer a form of clemency known as a "pardon extraordinary," which applied to individuals who had completed their criminal sentences and met a prescribed waiting period. Instead, any applicant who wishes to have a criminal conviction forgiven and set aside may simply apply for a pardon.

  • There is now a universal five-year waiting period for seeking a pardon, which runs from the expiration or discharge date of the relevant criminal sentence and is not affected by intervening criminal convictions. The ten-year waiting period that previously applied to individuals convicted of felony "crimes of violence" no longer exists. 

  • All applications will now be initially reviewed and heard by a nine-member Clemency Review Commission (Commission), which will begin its work no later than July 1, 2024. The Commission will meet at least four times a year to hear eligible clemency applications and make written recommendations to the Board about whether to grant or deny clemency. Applicants, victims, and other interested parties will now appear before the Commission instead of the Board. The Board will then vote on clemency applications already heard by the Commission at one of its semiannual meetings, with or without holding additional hearings. 

  • In addition to setting aside a conviction, the grant of a pardon will also result in automatic expungement of arrest and court records related to the pardoned conviction. 

  • Applications for rehearing will no longer be required to obtain permission to reapply for a pardon or commutation following a previous denial on the merits. Instead, applicants may automatically reapply for a pardon or commutation five years after the date of the most recent denial. Those who wish to reapply before the five-year period expires must request and obtain a waiver of this waiting period based on new and substantial information that was not (and could not have been) previously considered by the Board. 

Law enforcement agency inquiries may be submitted to: mnboardofpardons@state.mn.us

Contact Information: 651-361-7171 or mnboardofpardons@state.mn.us

Annual Reports
 
Application Forms
 
Application Process
 
Board Meetings
 
Next Meeting
 
Eligibility Requirements
 
Statutes, Rules, and Resources
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