Why would Ironman, a superhero and member of the Avengers, need a pardon? While Ironman has often saved the world from villains, he and his Avengers team often cause a significant amount of damage to property, and damaging the property of another is a criminal offense of Criminal Mischief. The severity of a Criminal Mischief charge is based upon the loss of value to the damaged property, and, because Ironman and the Hulk tend to cause millions of dollars of damage, the Mischief charge should be a felony offense.
Non-Violent Felony Drug Conviction
In all seriousness, Ironman is obviously a fictional character and thereby does not need a pardon. However, the actor that plays Ironman, Robert Downey, Jr., did seek and receive a pardon. Before Downey enjoyed such professional success by playing characters like Ironman and Sherlock Holmes, Downey's career was de-railed by drug abuse. After being caught with heroin, cocaine, and marijuana, Downey was charged with and ultimately pleaded guilty to a felony drug offense. Downey committed multiple violations of his sentence for continued drug possession and use, and those violations caused him to spend time in jail and treatment facilities.
Expungement of a Felony Conviction in Pennsylvania
The good news is that Downey appears to have become a success story of what rehab can do for a person. Downey's life was on a downward spiral, but, after putting his drug abuse behind him, he became one of the most successful actors of his era. Because of Downey's exemplary reformation of his life, he asked the governor for a pardon of his conviction.
I am often contacted by people who have a felony or misdemeanor conviction on their record and want to have the charges expunged or sealed. Most are having trouble finding a job or leasing an apartment because the felony drug conviction appears on criminal background checks. Others may have jobs that are not impacted by the felony record, but those persons may want to enjoy other rights such as the right to possess a firearm. A Pennsylvania felony drug conviction prohibits the person from possessing a firearm, which means that a person cannot use a gun to hunt. Many people in Central Pennsylvania thoroughly enjoy hunting and would rather spend time in jail than lose their ability to hunt.
Pennsylvania Pardon of Felony Drug Conviction
A person with a felony conviction for drug possession in Pennsylvania is NOT eligible to receive an expungement of the charge, but they may be able to obtain a pardon. What factors are considered in a pardon request? Generally speaking, the pardon board focuses on whether or not the applicant has been rehabilitated, moved forwarded with life, become successful, and the reason for the pardon request. Time is a huge factor. The pardon board wants to see a history of legal compliance before legitimately considering a pardon request. While Downey may have had a history of substance abuse, he followed that up with over 20 years of sobriety and success. I appreciate that such a person is permitted to remove the sins of his past and move forward. I also feel the need to emphasize that I believe that a pardon should be granted on a case-by-case basis, and I am often supportive of pardon applications in non-violent felony drug cases. Violent offenses such as Rape, Murder, and Aggravated Assault, should be and are much more difficult cases in which to receive a pardon. My support for a pardon in non-violent drug offenses in general does not mean that I support pardons for every convicted felon.
The State College criminal defense firm of J.D. Law, P.C., does not handle pardons directly. However, if you have questions, the firm can direct you to an experienced attorney that can help.