If you have been convicted of a felony offense in state court, federal court or by a military court-martial, a pardon may be your only avenue of relief from the imposed consequences of your conviction. As a convicted felon, you are subject to a variety of “civil disabilities.” Under federal law, convicted felons are prohibited from possessing a firearm, even for recreational hunting purposes. You are also subject to a bewildering array of employment and licensing restrictions under state and federal law that may limit your employment options. If you are a non-U.S. citizen, you may be subject to deportation, regardless of any extenuating circumstances. The process of preparing a persuasive federal or state clemency application is complex. The pardon attorneys at Federal Practice Group can help you navigate this complex process and draft a clemency application which clearly articulates why you deserve relief. Our pardon attorneys bring to the table many years of experience and understand the standards applied by DOJ when evaluating a pardon application.
Commutation of Sentence: At the federal level, a commutation of sentence and a pardon are simply different forms of executive clemency. This is a broad term that applies to the executive branch’s constitutional power to exercise leniency toward someone or many people who have committed federal crimes. A commutation of sentence is simply that, it commutes or reduces sentence, either in part or in full. It does not, however change the fact of the guilty conviction, imply innocence, or remove civil disabilities that apply to the convicted person as a result of the criminal conviction. A commuted sentence may include the release or removal of any financial obligations outlined by a sentence, like restitution. This only applies for all pending payments, and does not compensate the convicted of any restitution already paid. Additionally, a commutation of sentence does not affect a person’s immigration status, meaning it will not prevent removal or deportation from the United States. Eligibility for commutation of sentence requires that a person must have reported to prison, begun serving their sentence, and isn’t challenging their conviction in courts through the appellate process.
Pardon: A pardon is an expression of the executive branch’s forgiveness. Ordinarily, it is granted as a recognition of the applicant’s acceptance of responsibility for the crime, as well established significant rehabilitative conduct after conviction or completion of sentence. Pardons too, do not signify that the applicant is innocent. However, a granted pardon does remove civil disabilities – e.g., restrictions on the right to vote, hold state or local office, or sit on a jury. Essentially, all civil liberties which were revoked because of the conviction for which pardon is sought are reinstated. This often helps alleviate much of the stigma of a guilty conviction and incarceration, and may also be helpful in obtaining licenses, bonding, or employment. In some cases, a Pardon can have an effect on immigration status, eliminating the legal basis for removal or deportation from the United States. An applicant should seek the advice of counsel for more information on the application of this facet of pardons to their own case. Additionally, the eligibility for pardons requires a minimum of the passage of five years since their release from any form of confinement imposed upon them. This includes any additional convictions that may have occurred since the conviction for which the applicant is seeking a pardon.
If your life and career are being affected by collateral consequences imposed due to a felony criminal conviction, contact us today to schedule a consultation.
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