When you petition for a pardon in Illinois, you may request a hearing. Once your petition is accepted, your hearing will be set for Chicago or Springfield, depending on the date you filed.  Hearings are set quarterly, and each quarter has a corresponding filing deadline.

Hearings generally begin at 9 a.m. The Illinois Prisoner Review Board may schedule ten or more petitions for the same slot. Hearings are usually conducted in the order in which petitioners check in, so it often pays for you or your attorney to arrive early.

At the hearing, you may make a statement as well as present witnesses in your favor. The state may object to your petition, and they could present witnesses against you, although this may depend on the circumstances of your past offense.

The upside of a hearing is that it enables you to personalize your petition while making a good impression on the Board. The Board then makes its recommendation to the governor who has the final say. 

If you do not make a good impression, however, you can hurt your case. Therefore, it is advisable to consult an attorney who can help present you in your best light while avoiding unwitting mistakes. People are often unaware of how they come across to others. Therefore, it often helps to have an objective party take a look at what you’re doing.

At the hearing, you may present up to four witnesses who can speak favorably about you. Speakers are encouraged to keep it brief.  As a rule, the Board responds better to specific reasons as to why you deserve a pardon, rather than blanket statements about injustice or youthful indiscretion.

If you are interested in pursuing a pardon, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can help prepare your petition and personal statement, speak on your behalf at the hearing and advise you on how to appear at your best.

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

(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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