Restoration of Rights & Record Relief

                                   Last updated:  March 18, 2024  

I.  Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A.  Civil rights

A “sentence of custody to the Idaho state board of correction” following a felony conviction “suspends all the civil rights of the person so sentenced, including the right to refuse treatment authorized by the sentencing court, and forfeits all public offices and all private trusts, authority or power during such imprisonment,” except that any such person “may lawfully exercise all civil rights that are not political during any period of parole or probation.”  A suspended prison sentence also results in loss of right to vote.  Idaho Code Ann. § 18-310(1).  These rights are restored automatically upon “final discharge,” which means “satisfactory completion of imprisonment, probation and parole as the case may be.” § 18-310(2).1  The civil rights of those convicted in other jurisdictions are restored on the same terms.  § 18-310(4).  The Administrative Office for U.S. Courts has taken the position that federal offenders on supervised release are entitled to register and vote.2

B.  Firearms

A felony conviction results in the loss of firearms rights only during the period of sentence, with the exception of specified serious violent crimes.  Idaho Code Ann. §§ 18-310(1), (2).  For those crimes, firearms rights may be restored by application to the Idaho Commission for Pardons and Parole five years after the date of final discharge.  § 18-310(3).  See also § 18-3316(4) (firearms rights restored if a person’s “conviction has been nullified by expungement, pardon, setting aside the conviction or other comparable procedure by the jurisdiction where the felony conviction occurred; or whose civil right to bear arms either specifically or in combination with other civil rights has been restored by any other provision of Idaho law.”).

II.  Pardon policy & practice

A.  Authority

The Idaho Constitution empowers the legislature to create a board to grant pardons.  Idaho Const. art. IV, § 7.  This board (Idaho Commission for Pardons and Parole) has authority to grant pardons, except in cases of treason and impeachment, subject to legislative limitations on its power and manner of proceeding.  Idaho Const. art. IV, § 7; Idaho Code Ann. §§ 20-210, 20-240.3  The governor has constitutional power to grant reprieves or respites, except in the case of treason or imprisonment on impeachment.  In addition, by law the governor must approve the Commission’s recommendation in cases of murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, kidnapping, lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor child, or manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance, before the pardon becomes effective.  In effect, in such cases the Commission’s decision constitutes a recommendation to the governor.  Idaho Code Ann. § 20-240.

B.  Administration

Idaho Commission for Pardons and Parole is composed of five members appointed by the governor, with advice and consent of Senate, for three-year terms; no more than three may be from the same party.  Commission members may be removed by the governor for any reason.  The governor also appoints the Executive Director of the Commission, who is a full-time employee of the Commission.  Idaho Code Ann. § 20-210.  See also     

C.  Eligibility

For non-violent offenses (both felony and misdemeanor), individuals are eligible for pardon five years after completion of the sentence, including payment of restitution and fines.  For violent and sex offenders, individuals are eligible for pardon ten years after completion of the sentence.  See Rules of the Commission of Pardons & Paroles, Idaho Admin. Code 50.01.01 §§ 550.02(a), (b)(v) (hereafter Board Rules), Only persons convicted under Idaho law are eligible for a state pardon.  See Idaho Const. art. IV, § 7.

D.  Effect

According to the Commission’s website

 A pardon is an act of clemency which restores a person’s civil rights. The pardon does not expunge, remove, or reduce the crime(s) from the applicant’s criminal history. It only notes the crime(s) has been pardoned. If applying for a pardon, there is NO need to file an application for firearm rights restoration. Firearms rights are restored if a pardon is granted.  See also United States v. Bays, 589 F.3d 1035, 1037-40 (9th Cir. 2009) (an Idaho pardon does not “expunge” the conviction, as that term has been defined by federal courts for purposes of the U.S. sentencing guidelines).  A pardon relieves welfare and employment disabilities imposed by state law or administrative regulation, e.g., health care provider, school bus driver.  Standlee v. State, 538 P.2d 778, 781 (Idaho 1975) (a pardon “does away with both the punishment and the effects of a finding of guilt”).  

E.  Process

Article IV, Section 7 of the Idaho Constitution provides that no pardon shall be granted

“. . . except by the decision of a majority of said board, after a full hearing in open session, and until previous notice of the time and place of such hearing and the release applied for shall have been given by publication in some newspaper of general circulation at least once a week for four weeks.  The proceedings and decision of the board shall be reduced to writing and with their reasons for their action in each case, and the dissent of any member who may disagree, signed by him, and filed, with all papers used upon the hearing, in the office of the secretary of state.”

Idaho Const. art. IV, § 7. All written material (except pre-sentence report and victim info) relating to the application becomes a matter of public record, including dissents, and are available from Secretary of State.  See Board Rules, supra, § 550.04(e)(i)-(ii).

Information about applying and access to the application form are at  Completed applications submitted to the Commission of Pardons and Parole are assigned for investigation to a parole officer in area where the applicant resides, who inquires into criminal history, reputation in the neighborhood, employment, and makes a recommendation to Commission.  Id.; see also Board Rules, supra, § 550.02(b).  The Commission decides in executive session whether to convene as a Pardon Board for a hearing.  See Rules of the Commission of Pardons & Paroles, § 550.03.  If a hearing is granted, notice must be published pursuant to constitutional requirement, supra, and prosecutor and victims also notified so they may participate.  See Board Rules, supra, § 550.04.  Information on hearing schedules can be found at

In cases where the governor retains final authority to pardon, the Commission conducts the same full hearing and makes written recommendation to the governor; if no action is taken within 30 days, the application is deemed denied.  See Board Rules, supra, § 550.05.

F.  Firearms

Idaho Code Ann. §§ 18-310(3), (2). A person whose gun rights are not restored automatically (see Part I) may apply to the Commission five years after final discharge. Persons convicted of murder or whose sentence was enhanced for the use of a firearm during the commission of a felony are ineligible.  

G.  Frequency of Grants

Since 2009, the number of applications for pardon annually has more than doubled, to 30-40 per year.  Between 25% and 50% of these are granted by the Board.  The past several governors have granted a handful of pardons of more serious crimes.   The statistics below were curated from the Board website in 2017, but statistics on pardons are no longer posted there.  

Year Eligible petitions received Hearings granted/held Pardon granted
2010 41 15/10 9
2011 35 16 /14 14
2012 28 21/13 13
2013 31 –/26 21
2014 38 –/15 15
2015 65 –/21 21
2016 70 –/30 28


H.  Contact

Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole
3056 Elder St.
Boise, Idaho  83705
(208) 334-2520 ext. 229

III.  Expungement, sealing & other record relief

A. Set-aside of probationary sentences and deferred dispositions 

Idaho Code Ann. § 19-2604(1) authorizes any Idaho state district court, in any case in which a person is sentenced to community custody or where a sentence is deferred, “to terminate the sentence or set aside the plea of guilty or conviction of the defendant, and finally dismiss the case and discharge the defendant” or amend the judgment of conviction from a felony to a misdemeanor, where probation has been successfully completed.  The dismissal “shall have the effect of restoring the defendant to his civil rights,” including firearms rights.  Id.  “Where a judgment has been vacated under this statute [Section 19-2604], ‘it is a nullity, and the effect is as if it had never been rendered at all,’ and there are no limits or conditions on the rights defendant regains.” State v. Parkinson, 172 P.3d 1100, 1103 (Idaho 2007) (quoting Manners v. Bd. of Veterinary Med., 694 P.2d 1298, 1300 (Idaho 1985) (quoting State v. Barwick, 483 P.2d 670, 674 (Idaho 1971))), overruled on other grounds, Verska v. St. Alphonsus Reg’l Med. Ctr., 265 P.3d 502 (Idaho 2011).  However, this statute does not authorize sealing.  See Idaho Code Ann. § 67-3004(10)(excepting deferred dispositions from authority to seal non-conviction records).  But see authority enacted in 2023 to “shield” certain non-violent misdemeanors and drug felonies from public disclosure, discussed in Section C below. 

Deferred sentencing is authorized by §§ 19-2601(2)-(4) “on such terms and for such time as [the court] may prescribe,” including placing the individual on probation.  See also 19-2601(4) (suspension of sentence).  This statute does not apply to murder or any offense requiring sex offender registration.  § 2604(3).  Upon successful completion of probation, the court may allow the defendant to change his or her plea to not guilty, set aside the conviction, and dismiss the charges.  § 19-2604(1)(b).  

The statute does not authorize expungement or sealing of records and references to the charge.  See Idaho Code Ann. § 19-2604(1); Parkinson, 172 P.3d at 1103 (finding that Section 19-2604 “does not require or authorize the complete expungement of all records and references to the charge”).   

Deferred dispositions are specifically excluded from the authority for expunging non-conviction records in Idaho Code Ann. § 67-3004(10).  

A person whose DUI charge was dismissed pursuant to this section, but whose conviction was not set aside, is considered a person previously found guilty of DUI for purposes of the penalty-enhancing statute (Idaho Code Ann. § 18-8005(4)) applicable to repeat DUI offenders.  State v. Deitz, 819 P.2d 1155, 1157-58 (Idaho Ct. App. 1991); see also State v. Reed, 243 P.3d 1089, 1090-92 (Idaho Ct. App. 2010) (DUI charge dismissed under Section 19-2604(1) can be considered for purposes of penalty-enhancing statute even when the court order dismissing the first conviction stated that the plea was “unconditionally withdrawn” and “deemed as though it had never been tendered to or accepted by” the court).

B.  Knockdown of felony to misdemeanor 

In addition to the potential for knock-down of probationary and deferred sentences under § 19-2604(1) and (2), a defendant convicted of a felony and sentenced to a prison term may apply to the sentencing court upon discharge from probation for a reduction of the conviction from a felony to a misdemeanor, if at least five (5) years have elapsed since discharge, or earlier if the prosecuting attorney stipulates to the reduction.  §§ 19-2604(3) and (4).5  If the defendant was convicted of a list of serious violent offenses, reduction may be granted only if the prosecuting attorney agrees.  § 2604(3).  The applicant may not have been convicted of any subsequent felony, may not be currently charged with any crime, and the court must find “good cause” for granting the reduction in sentence.  This authority does not apply to anyone required to register as a sex offender. A violation of the terms of an agreement of supervision with the board of correction “shall not preclude the granting of relief to that person under this section.”

C. Shielding for nonviolent misdemeanors and felony drug possession

In 2023, Idaho authorized individuals convicted of non-violent misdemeanors and felony drug possession to petition the court to have their record “shielded from disclosure.” See HB 149, Idaho Code Ann. § 67-3004(11). Shielded records “shall not be available to the public” while the proceedings in the petitioner’s case “shall be deemed never to have occurred, and the petitioner may lawfully reply accordingly to any inquiry in the matter.” Law enforcement and court officers, however, may still access the record at any time. Relief does not extend to the “assaultive or violent misdemeanors” listed in § 67-3004(11)(b). Petitioners are eligible to file for shielding after a conviction-free waiting period of 5 years from completion of sentence, “including all ordered probation, parole, fines, and restitution.” § 67-3004(11)(c).

A court may grant a petition to shield if it determines that “the petitioner has been held accountable and that shielding the petitioner’s record from disclosure would not compromise public safety or the safety of any victims.” § 67-3004(11)(d). Upon granting a petition, the court “shall notify the Idaho State Police to make any law enforcement investigatory reports and fingerprint records unavailable for public viewing” and “shall notify the supreme court of the shielding,” which will maintain a record of all records shielded.” Shielding is limited to only one crime or crimes arising from a single incident per lifetime. Revoking a defendant’s shield from disclosure is mandatory upon a subsequent felony conviction and discretionary for a subsequent misdemeanor. § 67-3004(11)(g).

Idaho Code Ann. § 67-3004(10) authorizes expungement of non-conviction records, including court records, upon request to the state police after one year.    

Any person who was arrested or served a criminal summons and who subsequently was not charged by indictment or information within one (1) year of the arrest or summons and any person who was acquitted of all offenses arising from an arrest or criminal summons, or who has had all charges dismissed, may have the fingerprint and criminal history record taken in connection with the incident expunged pursuant to the person’s written request directed to the department and may have the official court file thereof sealed.

This provision shall not apply to any dismissal granted pursuant to § 19-2604(1), which provides for deferred adjudication (see above).  

D.  Vacatur and expungement for victims of human trafficking

Victims of human trafficking arrested or convicted of prostitution as a “result of acts induced by human traffickers,” may petition “to vacate such conviction and/or to expunge the criminal history records taken in connection with the conviction,” and to expunge “records related to any arrest or prosecution that resulted in a dismissal or acquittal.” “Actions brought under this section are civil actions and the petitioner shall not be entitled to the appointment of counsel. Jury trial shall not be available in actions brought under this section.”  Idaho Code Ann. § 67-3014(2). In addition, “[r]elief shall not be available under this section if the petitioner raised the affirmative defense of coercion at trial and was convicted.”  § 67-3014(3).  “Expunge” is defined in § 67-3014(15)(b) as follows:

‘Expunge’ or ‘expungement’ means to destroy, delete or erase a criminal history record as appropriate for the record’s physical or electronic form or characteristic so that the record is permanently irretrievable. Provided however, that all records in a petitioner’s case conducted in accordance with the provisions of this section that are in the custody of the court shall be sealed, and all references to an arrest and/or prosecution resulting in dismissal or acquittal or conviction shall be removed from all indices and records available to the public. A special index of the expungement proceedings and records shall be kept by the court ordering expungement but shall not be available to the public and shall be revealed only to the petitioner or upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction.

E.  Juvenile adjudications

Expungement of juvenile adjudications is governed by Idaho Code Ann. § 20-525A, which provides that juveniles may petition the court for expungement after a waiting period, with certain serious violent offenses excepted.  For felonies, eligibility begins the latest of reaching age 18, three years after release, or three years after the end of the juvenile court’s jurisdiction.  § 525A(1).  The waiting period was reduced in 2023 from five years by HB 262. For misdemeanors, eligibility is the later of one year after the end of the juvenile court’s jurisdiction or reaching age 18.  §§ 525A(2), (A)(3).  Following a hearing, the court shall grant the juvenile’s expungement petition if it finds that the juvenile has been held accountable, is a contributing member of society, and expungement will not risk public safety.  § 525A(5).  If the expungement request is granted, all records are sealed and removed from public access, and the juvenile may deny the existence of any record.  Id.6

In 2022 Idaho broadened its provisions for juvenile diversion so that a prosecutor may refer a juvenile directly to county probation without “if court action is not required” precondition, and authorized development of a validated screening tool to determine eligibility. See HB 453, amending Idaho Code Ann. § 20-511. The new law removes a fee charged to juveniles for community service work and limits the “informal adjustment” period to three years. § 20-520.

F.  Sex Offenders

Idaho Code Ann. § 18-8310:  Sex offenders (other than recidivists, offenders convicted of an aggravated offense, or offenders designated as violent sexual predators) may petition court after ten years of law-abiding conduct for “expungement” from sex offender registry.  See also § 2604(3) (sex offenders ineligible for deferred adjudication and set-aside).

IV.  Criminal record in employment & licensing

Idaho has no law generally regulating consideration of criminal record in public or private employment.

A. Occupational licensing

Until 2020, Idaho had no general law regulating consideration of conviction in licensure, and various tests were applied  in connection with some licenses.7 In 2020, SB1351 added a new chapter 94 to Title 67 of the Idaho Code, adopting “a comprehensive and proactive approach to reducing occupational licensing constraints and barriers.” § 67–9402. Inter alia establishing a committee “to study and review occupational licensing and certification laws in general in order to determine, as applicable, how the legislature may be able to ease occupational licensing barriers while still protecting the public health and safety.” See § 67–9408(1) and (2). The new law authorizes a non-binding preliminary determination as to whether a person’s conviction will be disqualifying, § 67–9410, and establishes a multi-factor test to determine whether a person’s criminal record is “currently relevant to the applicant’s fitness” to engage in the occupation. § 67–9411(1). The licensing authority “shall make its determination based on consideration of the following factors:

(a) The nature and seriousness of the crime for which the individual was convicted;

(b) The relationship of the crime to the ability, capacity, and fitness required to perform the duties and discharge the responsibilities of the occupation;

(c) The passage of time since the commission of the crime;

(d) Any evidence of rehabilitation or treatment undertaken by the individual; and

(e) Any other relevant factor.”

67–9411(1). A license may not be denied on the basis of “vague or generic terminology related to a criminal conviction, including but not limited to ‘moral turpitude’ or ‘moral character.'” “Where such terms appear in code or rule with respect to a criminal conviction, a licensing authority shall conduct a relevancy evaluation pursuant to subsection (1) of this section.” § 67–9411(2).

The “currently relevant” standard of § 67–9411(1) was inserted in a variety of licensing chapters as a basis for denial or revocation of a license, replacing a formulation that permitted adverse action based on “conviction of any felony, or conviction of any other crime involving moral turpitude.” It was also inserted into the rules of the division of human resources and the personnel commission that regulate public employment in the state. Idaho Code Ann. § 67–5309.

In 2022, consistent with its approach of easing occupational licensing restrictions two years earlier, the Idaho Legislature adopted SB 1368, which removed numerous references to “moral” in phrases requiring “good moral character,” and linked directly to the “currently relevant” standards set forth in § 67-9411(1).

  1. It is not clear whether payment of restitution and fine is required in order to regain the franchise.  Cf. the specific requirement of payment of such costs as a condition of early release from probation, § 19-2604, and payment as a condition of eligibility for pardon.  See below. 
  2. In an opinion dated October 31, 2008, the General Counsel, Administrative Office for U.S. Courts, opined that federal supervised release, as a penalty imposed separately from a prison sentence, is analogous to probation as opposed to parole.  See Memorandum from Joe Gergits, Assistant General Counsel, AOUSC, October 31, 2008 (on file with authors).  
  3. The state constitution originally provided for a Board of Pardons composed of the Governor, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of State.  In 1945 the Constitution was amended to give the legislature power to create a pardoning board.  See Idaho Const. art. IV, § 7. 
  4. The waiting periods were lengthened in 2020 from three and five years, respectively.
  5. Between 2006 and 2013 Idaho gradually expanded its statute authorizing downgrading of offenses from felony to misdemeanor after successful completion of probation.  What began as a drug court program is now a comprehensive program applicable to anyone qualifying for deferred or community-based sentencing, and anyone who has been sentenced to a prison or jail term upon completion of supervision.
  6. §525A(5) provides in part:

    “If the court finds after hearing that the petitioner has not been adjudicated as a juvenile offender for any [ineligible offence] . . .  and that no proceeding involving such felony or misdemeanor is pending or being instituted against him, and if the court further finds to its satisfaction that the petitioner has been held accountable, is developing life skills necessary to become a contributing member of the community and that the expungement of the petitioner’s record will not compromise public safety, it shall order all records in the petitioner’s case in the custody of the court and all such records, including law enforcement investigatory reports and fingerprint records, in the custody of any other agency or official sealed; and shall further order all references to said adjudication, diversion or informal adjustment removed from all indices and from all other records available to the public. However, a special index of the expungement proceedings and records shall be kept by the court ordering expungement, which index shall not be available to the public and shall be revealed only upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction. Copies of the order shall be sent to each agency or official named in the order. Upon the entry of the order the proceedings in the petitioner’s case shall be deemed never to have occurred and the petitioner may properly reply accordingly upon any inquiry in the matter. Inspection of the records may thereafter be permitted only by the court upon petition by the person who is the subject of the records or by any other court of competent jurisdiction, and only to persons named in the petition.” 

  7. See, e.g., Idaho Code Ann. § 54-2103(23) (applicant for licensure as veterinarian must be “in good standing,” which means that he has “(e) not been convicted of a felony . . .; and (f) Has no criminal conviction record or pending criminal charge relating to an offense the circumstances of which substantially relate to the practice of veterinary medicine”). See also § 54-923 (dental professional’s certificate or qualification to practice may be revoked if convicted of felony or certain misdemeanors, even if conviction occurred before certified/qualified); § 54-2012 (past convictions of felonies or certain misdemeanors considered in connection with licensure of real estate salesperson or broker); § 19-5109(9) (certification/training of peace officers); id. § 23-910(1)(selling liquor); § 26-31-207(1)(d) (mortgage brokers); § 33-1202(4) & 1204 & 1208 (teachers); §54-1510(3)(optometrists); §69-504(6) (commodity dealers).