(402) 932-0290


We answer the question of , “What’s the deal with pardons, set-asides, expungements and 15 year license revocation reprieves in Nebraska?”

I am often contacted by prospective clients that have prior criminal or traffic convictions in the state of Nebraska that are looking to clear, or remove, those convictions from their history.  There are a myriad of reasons that persons may want to have a conviction removed from their history, including: employment application limitations, international travel restrictions (e.g. Canada), reinstatement of voting rights or other civil liberties, reinstatement of gun possession/ownership rights, and many other reasons.

People use terms such as expunge, set-aside, pardon and other legal nomenclature with regard to potential change of a party’s criminal record or driving privileges.

Expungement” in Nebraska is solely a legal process in which any person arrested due to the error of a law enforcement agency may file a petition with the district court for an order to expunge the criminal history record information related to such error. The court may grant the petition and issue an order to expunge such information if the petitioner shows by clear and convincing evidence that the arrest was due to error by the arresting law enforcement agency.  Expungement is quite different from both set-asides and pardons.

Set Aside” under Nebraska statutes provide for a procedure to have certain convictions set-aside via application to the Court for misdemeanor and felony convictions.  An amended Nebraska law goes into effect on July 19, 2018 which provides means for defendants to seek set-asides for infraction convictions.  Previously, infractions were not eligible for nullification under this statute.

Set-asides are a practical option for persons that look to have their prior convictions no longer appear as convictions on their criminal record when prospective employers review their criminal history reports.  While this process is fairly simple and straight forward, it should be noted that set-asides DO NOT have the same effect as a pardon in Nebraska.  Set-asides may nullify a conviction but they do not mean that any such prior conviction cannot be used against you in the future for enhanceable offenses, such as DUI and theft convictions.  See below, with regard to pardons.

Pardons” in Nebraska may be applied for via (1) the Nebraska Board of Pardons, or (2) through any municipality that grants its Mayor the power of a pardon for city ordinance violations.  Omaha, Nebraska does have a “mayoral pardon” process that is not often used, but can be a very effective way of making a client’s prior city ordinance violation virtually disappear after being granted by the Mayor.  Whether by the Board of Pardons or by a Mayor, a formal pardon effectively makes it as if the crime and conviction never happened.  The offense will be fully removed and cleared from an individual’s record.  With the conviction removed, it cannot be used against a person for an enhanceable offense and may not be used later in court as evidence of bad character.  Further, a person seeking employment is then not required to disclosed the pardoned offense on any job application.

From the Nebraska Board of Pardons website:

“The Nebraska Board of Pardons process can be lengthy.  The evaluation of a pardon application may take several months to several years from start to finish. A pardon application submitted under one Pardons Board Administration, but not decided under that administration, need not be resubmitted.  No matter of the Pardons Board Administration, an application will remain under consideration until final action is taken by the Pardons Board Members in Office at that time. The Nebraska Pardons Board can accept or deny an application or requested offense for any reason or no reason at all.

 A pardon is an act of mercy and is a gift from supreme authority.  The Nebraska Board of Pardons has the free discretion to grant or deny a pardon of any lawfully imposed sentence for any reason or no reason at all.  A decision to pardon an individual from a crime generally depends on purely subjective evaluations and a prediction of future behavior by those entrusted with the decision and warrants a waiting period from the conviction of the individual’s last crime to establish a pattern of behavior.  Ordinarily, clemency may be considered when the applicant has accepted responsibility for the crime and has established good conduct for a significant period after the completion of their last criminal sentence.  A Pardon does not signify innocence.

 For felony convictions, a person is not eligible to apply for a pardon on until a minimum of ten (10) years has elapsed since the completion from any form of sentence imposed upon him/her as part of a sentence for his most recent criminal conviction, whether or not that is the conviction(s) for which he is seeking a pardon.

 For misdemeanor convictions, a person is not eligible to apply for a pardon until a minimum three (3) years has elapsed since the completion from any form of sentence imposed upon him/er as part of a sentence for his most recent criminal conviction, whether or not that is the conviction(s) for which he is seeking a pardon.”

Obviously, the pardon process with the State is very lengthy and nothing is guaranteed.  You will want an attorney guiding you through this journey.

On the other hand, a Mayoral Pardon is a much shorter and easier process to endure.  This can be done in a matter of weeks for qualified applicants and has the same effect as a State pardon.

Reprieve of the Fifteen Year License Revocation:”  The Board of Pardons also considers applications for persons with 15-year license revocations following driving under the influence convictions, primarily. A person whose driver’s license has been revoked for 15 years in Nebraska as part of a sentence for drunk driving under the influence third or subsequent offense may apply for a reprieve from the Board of Pardons. The application for reprieve is made to the DMV, which reviews it and forwards it to the Board of Pardons. Per the Board of Pardons, if the Board grants a reprieve, a Nebraska resident may drive a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device (BAIID) after applying for an ignition interlock permit (IIP).

Please contact Mr. Williams for help with any of the above referenced information to see what solution may best fit your particular situation.