Frequently Asked Questions
What authority does the Board of Pardons have?
The Nebraska Board of Pardons was created through Article IV, Section 13 of the Nebraska Constitution and is comprised of the Governor, the Secretary of State and the Attorney General. The Board’s constitutional powers cannot be limited or modified by any act of the legislature or the Nebraska Courts.
The Board has the power to:
- Remit fines and forfeitures
- Grant respites
- Grant reprieves
- Grant pardons
- Grant commutations
- Grant Warrants of Discharge
This applies to all cases of conviction for offenses against the laws of the State of Nebraska except treason and cases of impeachment.
Any decision by the Board will be by majority vote. The Board may, after a pardon has been granted for a felony offense, empower the Governor to expressly authorize the applicant to receive, possess or transport in commerce, a firearm.
What does a pardon do?
A pardon restores civil rights lost due to a felony conviction. These rights include, but are not limited to:
- The right to vote
- The right to be a juror
- The right to hold public office
- The right to bear arms
- The right of admission to professional schools
- The right to take Civil Service Examination
- The right to serve in the military
- The right to be issued a passport
- The right to hold certain licenses (Liquor and Public Health and Welfare Licenses)
- The right to hold certain licenses (Liquor, Public Health, and Welfare Licenses)
- i.e. teacher, attorney, doctor/nurse, beautician/barber, private investigator, law enforcement, etc.
- The right to government grants, loans, contracts, public housing, and educational funding
When does the Board meet?
The Board meets about every six to eight weeks. Quarterly meetings are designated for hearings on applications. All meetings are open to considerations of applications.
If an individual has had a conviction “set-aside” by a judge or court of law, is that equivalent to the receipt of a pardon?
The answer from the Nebraska Supreme Court is “no”. The court issued an opinion in State v. Spady (264 Neb. 99) on June 14, 2002 that states that a set-aside “…does not result in the granting of a pardon. Nor does it allow a court to grant a “partial pardon.” The court is permitted to set aside convictions, but certain civil disabilities are exempted from restoration”.
Does the Certificate of Discharge from a Nebraska correctional facility or a judicial discharge from a sentence of probation restore civil rights?
No, only a pardon can restore civil rights.
Does any authority within the State of Nebraska have the ability to expunge records?
No, the State of Nebraska does not expunge records. Once a conviction has occurred, the only redress that is available to restore civil rights (other than the Court of Appeals) is that of the Pardons Board.
Does a Warrant of Discharge restore civil rights?
A Warrant of Discharge issued by the Board of Pardons will only restore those civil rights enumerated specifically in the certificate.
EX-FELON VOTING RIGHTS:
Nebraskans with felony convictions once lost their right to vote forever, but in 2005 the state law changed. Now the law automatically restores the voting rights of Nebraskans with past felony convictions. This allows many ex-felons to register to vote in all state and federal elections.
WHEN CAN AN EX-FELON REGISTER TO VOTE IN THE STATE OF NEBRASKA?
If you are an ex-felon you can register just like anyone else – no special steps are required. You can register to vote when you have completed the following:
- Have waited for two years since completing your sentence.
- Are a U.S. Citizen.
- Are at least 18 years old on or before the first Monday in November.
- Live in the State of Nebraska.
- Have not been found mentally incompetent.
HOW TO REGISTER TO VOTE:
You can register to vote by going to your County Clerk Election Commissioner’s Office and filling out a registration form or you can obtain a registration form online (www.sos.nebraska.gov) or from a phone book, public library, or a state agency. Then mail it to your county clerk election commissioner’s office.
If you have questions or concerns about your right to vote and the registration process you can contact:
- Nebraska Voting Rights Coalition: 800-845-3746
- League of Women Voters of Nebraska: 402-475-1411
ARE THERE ANY FELONY CONVICTIONS THAT KEEP ME FROM AUTOMATICALLY REGAINING MY VOTING RIGHTS?
Yes. If you have been convicted of treason under Nebraska Law or the laws of the United States you must apply for restoration of your civil rights (a pardon) before you can register to vote.
WHAT IF I WAS CONVICTED OF A FELONY IN ANOTHER STATE?
You will be eligible to vote in the State of Nebraska two years after you have completed all terms of your felony sentence and you otherwise meet the voting eligibility requirements in Nebraska.
WHAT IF I HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH A FELONY BUT HAVE NOT BEEN CONVICTED?
You have the right to register and to vote if you have not been convicted, even if you are incarcerated and awaiting trial.
WHAT IF I WAS CONVICTED OF A MISDEMEANOR?
Your voting rights are not affected and you remain fully eligible to register to vote in all state and federal elections.