Sometimes people get themselves into legal problems due to being foolish. Others end up with a criminal charge against them even though they are innocent of any wrongdoing. Whatever the reason for being charged, many people want a fresh start and this requires getting a pardon.
It is important to recognize that even if you are successful in your bid for pardon, your criminal record still stands. However, a pardon means that even if you have more time left on your sentence, you will not have to serve it. A pardon can also free you from many of the barriers that people with criminal records face when they are out in the free world.
What is a Pardon?
A pardon is in essence being granted forgiveness for your crime. According to the law Museum (http://www.crimemuseum.org/crime-library/pardons), a pardon is the process where “an executive authority legally forgives someone for a crime, and reinstates rights lost …”
Steps in Applying for a Pardon
If you are thinking about requesting a pardon, you need to know how to apply. Any chance of success will depend on following the process and doing everything correctly. The United States Department of Justice website (http://www.justice.gov/pardon/pardon-information-and-instructions) provides great information on the process for getting a pardon.
How to Get a Presidential Pardon
This type of pardon is only applicable for criminal acts against the United States, with the exception of impeachment. A presidential pardon cannot be granted for a state criminal offence, this requires a governor’s pardon. A federal crime has to be committed before a presidential pardon can be granted.
Interestingly, there is more than one type of presidential pardon. Some of these are absolute, conditional and partial. An absolute pardon restores all rights to the person being pardoned. This type also means that you will not need to serve a sentence or the remainder of your sentence. With a conditional pardon, you will need to satisfactorily fulfil some set criteria before the pardon can be granted. This may mean serving a period of probation first.
Failure to meet the requirements means that your application will not be successful. As the name suggests, a partial pardon means that you will still need to serve some time, but not the full sentence, or accept some other type of punishment. The granting of a presidential pardon is covered under the U.S. Constitution. The clause in the constitution actually states that the president will “…have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment”.
In some instances, such as with a high profile case, no application is necessary. The president may decide to grant a pardon based on either an application from you or a request from someone who can put in a request directly to him or someone close to him. Petitions for presidential pardons are handled in the Office of the Pardon Attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice.
Before you can apply for a presidential pardon, at least five years must have passed after you have served your sentence. This five year period starts on the day your sentence ends. If there was no imprisonment, then the five years start on the date of sentencing if probation or a fine was the punishment. This waiting period is meant to allow time to show that you can be a productive member of society. It also gives you time to prove that you are sorry for the offence you committed.
The steps for applying for a presidential pardon require that you obtain and complete an application form. The form is approximately 20 pages long. In addition to completing this document, you need to get three character references from people other than family members. You will also need to write a letter outlining why you think you deserve to be pardoned and how this will help you to become a better member of society. You will need to articulate clearly that you have accepted responsibility for the crime and that you are truly sorry.
You also need to present any criminal records and other relevant information when submitting your application. Credit information will also be requested and must be submitted with your application.
This includes any information on unpaid taxes, or civil lawsuits in which you are or were involved. Once the application is submitted, all that the petitioner can do is wait on the result. During this phase, there will be an investigation into your background and lifestyle. This investigation tends to be extremely thorough, so be prepared for the release of all types of information about you. If the presidential pardon is not granted, you cannot appeal the decision.
What is a Governor’s Pardon?
A governor’s pardon is sought when the petitioner was either found to be guilty of a crime and was convicted, or a guilty plea was made by the petitioner. The application for a governor’s pardon is similar in many ways to that for a presidential pardon. This includes completing an application form, submitting three character references and sending in your arrest records. If successful, you will find that many of your civil rights will be restored. While these vary from state to state, you may find that you can apply for gun ownership. You may be able to gain employment as a peace officer such as a probation official.
The first step in the process of applying for a governor’s pardon is to make sure you can actually meet the requirements for applying.