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Mark Walhberg's Pardon Petition: What Happens Next?

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on January 22, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Actor Mark Wahlberg has petitioned the state of Massachusetts to be pardoned for crimes he committed when he was 16.

Wahlberg was arrested in 1988 for attacking two Vietnamese men while trying to steal beer, reports The Associated Press. As a result of the attack, which left one man partially blinded, Wahlberg was convicted on a number of different criminal charges, including assault and battery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, possession of a controlled substance, and criminal contempt. Wahlberg subsequently served 45 days in jail.

Wahlberg, now 43, is looking to wipe the slate clean with a pardon. What does a pardon actually do and what does Wahlberg need to prove in order to get one?

What Is a Pardon?

A pardon is the highest form of clemency granted to a person convicted of a crime and typically removes all criminal liability for that crime. For federal crimes, pardons are issued by the president. For state crimes, pardons are often issued by the governor, although pardon boards may also be found in some states.

In Massachusetts, the power to grant pardons is held by the governor. However, reviews and recommendations in each case are handled by the Massachusetts Parole Board acting as the Advisory Board of Pardons. This board determines whether a hearing should be held, conducts hearing, and investigates those who petition for a pardon.

What Does a Pardon Require?

According to the Massachusetts Executive Clemency Unit, a person petitioning for a pardon must have demonstrated "good citizenship" along with a specific, verified, and compelling need for a pardon. In deciding on the petitioner's pardon request, the board will consider support for the petitioner from the community, along with the petitioner's accomplishments and achievements; opposition to the petition is also considered.

In his petition, Wahlberg highlights his philanthropic efforts as well as his success as both an actor and a businessman. Wahlberg also notes that his convictions may prevent him from getting concessionaire's licenses in some states (he's trying to expand a chain of restaurants called Wahlburgers, CNN reports) as well as preventing him from becoming more involved with law enforcement communities in his efforts to work with at-risk youth.

Wahlberg's petition will be reviewed by the board. The board will then make a recommendation to Massachusetts Gov. Duval Patrick, who will make a final decision with the advice and consent of the Massachusetts Governor's Council.

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