What is a Presidential Pardon?
A presidential pardon is something that is done by the President of the United States in order to set aside a previous conviction of a defendant. Article 2 Section 2 of the U.S. constitution grants the power for a pardon. The only offense that cannot be pardoned by the federal government is a case of impeachment. It is common for a President to pardon from 100 to 1700 people during their term as president. A presidential pardon can only be done on a Federal Case. That means that someone would have to have been convicted of a crime in Federal Court. Although the president is the highest executive in power, they cannot pardon a state court offense. That means that if someone was convicted of a crime in state court, there would be nothing that the president can do. Presidential pardons are usually done at the end of the president’s term. The reason for this is because presidential pardons can be quite controversial. When a president knows that they cannot be reelected for another term, it is common for them to do things that they may not have done earlier on in their presidency.
What is the process for filing a Presidential Pardon?
The first thing you have to do when filing a presidential pardon is submit a petition to the Office of the Pardon Attorney. This office is the one that helps the president make decisions on the case. They look over all of the paperwork and documentation that is sent, along with the inherent conviction that one was charged with. After reading over all of the information, they then make a recommendation to the President of the United States. The president looks over their summary of the case and usually follows the recommendation that he was given.
The Office of the Pardon Attorney generally has a team of lawyers or former lawyers on staff and that is why is it important to know exactly what to put in the application. These are people that have been in politics or the legal world their entire life and they know exactly what key words or phrases to look for in order to grant an application. Hiring a prison consultant or even better a presidential pardon consultant can help you through this first step to get the result you deserve.
Tips to Applying for a Presidential Pardon
There are some tricks of the trade when making the application so we decided to bring together a couple tips for people trying to fill out their own application:
- Grammar is important. It is always best to have a polished application.
- Take responsibility for your actions. Question 20 asks why the pardon should be granted. You are able to attach evidence and other sources to show this.
Remember, you need to take responsibility for your actions. This is not fighting your case, or trying to prove you are innocent. It is you saying that you believe that your circumstances warrant you getting the pardon granted at this time.
- Don’t be afraid to attach similar cases as yours with lesser sentences. Sometimes there are cases that have the same facts as yours but their sentences were much lower than yours. If this is the case, you should find these cases and attach the sentences to your application.
- Add character letters to your application. Character letters are letters from other people attesting to your good character. A couple tips in these letters would be: 1) do not have your writers get too religious. Remember, the person reading your letter may not have the same religious views as your writer. 2) Make sure that the person writing explains who they are and where they are employed 3) Try to keep the letters to a minimum of 5 pages.
- Be honest. You need to be honest in your application. No matter what you do, do not tell a lie. If you think there is a grey area where the office may not know about something, always disclose the information to stay on the safe side. Your application will automatically be denied if there is any indication you were untruthful. Furthermore, you could actually be prosecuted for lying on your application and spend up to an additional 5 years in prison.
Who is eligible for a Presidential Pardon?
Anyone who has been convicted of a federal crime is eligible for a presidential pardon. However, the executive office has made one regulation requiring a five-year waiting period before a pardon can be granted. This is to make sure that all appeals are completed and that it is a final adjudicated conviction. The statute authorizing this five-year waiting period is 28 CFR Section 1.1. In your application you can request a waiver of this time period. However, there have to be significant reasons for the rule to not be considered. Lastly, a presidential pardon is only for felony convictions. Someone with a misdemeanor conviction would not be eligible.
What is the effect of a Presidential Pardon?
A presidential pardon will not erase your conviction. In essence, the conviction still exists however it can be explained to anyone who is concerned that you have received a presidential pardon. A pardon can help you get any federal rights restored that you lost. However, it is still important to realize that some of those rights may have been lost by your home state as well.
For example, a presidential pardon may restore any firearms rights that someone has lost due to a felony conviction. However, that person may still have to get a state pardon or go through the proper process to have the state also give back their rights to possess a firearm.
Presidential pardons are rare but can be done. In the past 10 years they have often been reserved for individuals who were convicted of non-violent drug crimes and serving an extremely large prison term because of it. If you are looking to have a presidential pardon filed, feel free to give us a call for a free consultation.