Online Pardon Application

Frequently Asked Questions

If only the governor has the authority to grant a pardon, how do I get a pardon?

As a matter of policy, the governor does not consider applications until the board has reviewed and approved the application.

Do I need to hire a lawyer to help me through the process?

No. An attorney is not required for this process. Some applicants may find it beneficial to hire counsel to assist them in filling out the application, gathering documents, and representing them at the hearing, but it is not mandatory.

How do I get a pardon?

You will need to apply for clemency.

While the Board of Pardons and Paroles reviews and recommends requests for clemency, only the governor has the authority to grant a pardon. However, state law does not allow a record to be sealed unless the pardon goes through the Board process outlined in South Dakota Codified Law Chapter 24-14. You can view it by going to Select the “Laws” tab and then "Codified Laws".

If you have questions about pardons, the clemency process, or if you would like to request an application, please contact:

Office of the Board of Pardons and Paroles
South Dakota State Penitentiary
P.O. Box 5911
Sioux Falls, SD 57117-5911

If the Board recommends you for a pardon, they will refer it to the governor for final action. If the governor denies your pardon, you are eligible to re-apply after one year has passed since your denial.

How do I apply for a pardon?

You can complete the application online.

If you prefer to complete a paper application, it is available to be printed from

You can also request an application by contacting:

Office of the Board of Pardons and Paroles
South Dakota State Penitentiary
P.O. Box 5911
Sioux Falls, SD 57117-5911

There is no fee to apply; however, some costs will be incurred with the gathering of documents and completion of assessments.

When can I apply for a pardon?

You may apply at any time following one year from the date of conviction. However, the Board generally looks more favorably on applications when more time has passed from the time you were sentenced or discharged from probation or parole. If you are denied, you will be eligible to re-apply after a year has passed since your denial.

Who appoints members to the Board of Pardons and Paroles?

The Governor, the Chief Justice of the South Dakota Supreme Court, and the Attorney General appoint members to the Board. The Board receives administrative support from the Department of Corrections but the Board is independent in its decision making. The Board can receive input from the Attorney General, other agencies, victims, and community supporters. The Board must sort through all the information and opinions provided before making a decision.

I have a conviction on my record that makes it unlawful for me to possess a firearm. How can I get my firearm rights restored?

Federal law governs ownership or possession of a firearm by persons convicted of a felony or misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. If you are looking to have these rights restored, you will need to request clemency for the convictions that prevent you from lawfully possessing a firearm.

Further information on federal laws governing firearms possession, ownership, and prohibited persons can be found here:

What happens if someone is granted a pardon?

Any person who has been granted a pardon under the provisions of this chapter shall be released from all disabilities consequent on such person's conviction. Upon the granting of a pardon, the Governor shall order that all official records relating to the pardoned person's arrest, indictment or information, trial, finding of guilt and receipt of a pardon shall be sealed. The effect of such order is to restore such person, in the contemplation of the law, to the status the person occupied before arrest, indictment or information. No person as to whom such order has been entered may be held thereafter under any provision of any law to be guilty of perjury or of giving a false statement by reason of such person's failure to recite or acknowledge such arrest, indictment, information or trial in response to any inquiry made of such person for any purpose. For the sole purpose of consideration of the sentence of a defendant for subsequent offenses or the determination of whether the defendant is a habitual offender under chapter 22-7, the pardoned offense shall be considered a prior conviction.

How do I find out what’s on my record?

A record search of your criminal history will provide conviction information such as sentencing date and crime class (felony / misdemeanor 1 or 2). You can obtain a copy of your criminal record by visiting your local courthouse and requesting a record search at no cost. This information can also be obtained online with a $20.00 processing fee for any search submitted. Electronic records date back to 1989; any convictions prior to 1989 will need to be obtained from the courthouse in the county in which you were convicted.

For more information regarding your statewide criminal history or to conduct an online search, please visit:

I received a suspended imposition of sentence. Can I request a pardon on that offense?

It depends. If you followed through with court orders and the sentence was sealed by the court, the offense will not appear on your record and there is no conviction for which to request clemency. If your suspended imposition of sentence was revoked and you received a judgment of sentence, you may request clemency on that offense.

I have several charges that appear on my record even though they were dismissed or I was found not guilty. Can I request a pardon on those offenses?

No. A pardon can only be granted for an offense for which there is a conviction. If a charge was dismissed or you were found not guilty, there is no conviction to pardon.

You will need to talk to an attorney or contact the court about your options for an expungement. SDCL Ch. 23A-3 provides the process for an expungement.

Do I need a pardon to vote?

It depends. If you were convicted of a misdemeanor or petty offense, your voting rights were not suspended as a result of that conviction. If you were convicted of a felony and you are currently serving your sentence for that conviction, either in prison or in the community on parole or probation supervision, your voting rights are suspended until you are discharged from your sentence. Please see SDCL 12-4-18 and SDCL 23A-27-35 if you have any questions.

I was convicted of a federal crime. Can I request a pardon from the Governor of South Dakota?

No. Only the President of the United States can pardon a federal conviction.

Can I apply for a pardon for someone else?

No. Family, friends, or an attorney may assist someone with filling out the application, gathering documents, or by testifying at the hearing, but the applicant must make the decision to apply for clemency on his/her own.

What are some of the questions I might be asked during my hearing?

The Board may ask you to describe the offense for which you are seeking clemency, what your life has been like since your conviction, why you are requesting a pardon, and how a pardon might benefit not only you (personally or professionally) but society as a whole.

I no longer live in South Dakota and it is difficult for me to travel. Do I have to attend my hearing in person?

No. Clemency hearings are conducted in Sioux Falls, SD on the campus of the South Dakota State Penitentiary (1600 N North Drive), and you may find it advantageous to appear in person if you are able. However, hearings can be conducted over the phone if you are unable to travel.