How to Write a Pardon Letter to the Governor

Updated November 21, 2016

A pardon letter is an official apology letter from a person who has been convicted of a crime to a public official, such as the president or a governor. The purpose of the letter is to ask for a criminal record to be cleared. For example, a former convicted felon might write a pardon letter to be able to get certain jobs, or someone who is in jail might write so that their conviction may be revisited or overturned.

Write your name, address and telephone number at the top of the page.

Skip a line, and write "The Honorable Governor John Doe," followed by "Governor of Your State," the gubernatorial house's address, and the date.

Skip a line, and write "Dear Governor" or "Dear Governor Doe." End the salutation with a colon instead of a comma.

Write a paragraph detailing the nature of your crime, the date, and the nature of the conviction or verdict that you have received. Briefly state why you wish to be pardoned.

Write a second paragraph detailing your activities since the conviction. Jobs, participation in church groups and rehabilitation, and family activities could all influence the governor to rule in your favour. Convince the governor that you are truly sorry for what you have done and that you have worked hard to be a positive contributor to society and your community.

Write a third paragraph restating your reasons for writing the pardon letter, and sincerely thanking the governor for his time.

Write "Sincerely," or "Yours Truly," and then your name. If you're typing the letter, leave five lines in between the closing and your name and sign the letter when you print it out. If you are writing the letter by hand, sign and then print your name.


Send letters of recommendation and personal reference from friends, family and former employers along with the pardon letter. If possible, approach well-known pillars of your community, like public officials, pastors and business leaders, and ask them to write reference letters for you. Formal letters such as pardon letters should be typed, but neat handwriting is acceptable as well.


Before you begin writing a pardon letter, consult with a trustworthy lawyer and make sure that you are eligible for pardon in the first place. Some states require a certain number of years to pass between conviction and pardon.

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About the Author

Jennifer Gigantino has been writing professionally since 2009. Her work has been published in various venues ranging from the literary magazine "Kill Author" to the rehabilitation website Soberplace. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in film and digital media from the University of California at Santa Cruz.