You used to live in Illinois, but you moved away years ago.  Since then, you have started a new family and tried to make a new life. Unfortunately, your old criminal conviction keeps popping up to haunt you, so you want to get a pardon.

If you live far away or even where you don’t, do you have to come back to Illinois for the pardon hearing?

Strictly speaking, the answer is no  You do not have to request a hearing when filing your petition.  However, a hearing gives you the opportunity to address the Illinois Prisoner Review Board in person.  The Board then makes its recommendation to the governor as to whether your petition should be granted.  If you do not go to the hearing, the board will still meet to discuss your case, but you will lose a chance to highlight the positive aspects of your case.  Plus, if you present well, allowing the Board to see the human being behind the petition could make a real difference in your result.

If you do attend the hearing, bear in mind that it will be relatively brief.  You may not need to discuss the details of what happened, but the board reserves the right to ask questions about the original offense.  You may also present no more than four witnesses to talk about how much you have changed.

If you wish to seek an Illinois pardon, contact an experienced attorney immediately.  An attorney can help you present your situation in its best possible light. 

 If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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