Your Appeal Is Your Last Best Chance To Right A Wrong

Photo of Scott M. Davidson

What’s the difference between commutation and a pardon?

On Behalf of | Jan 6, 2022 | Pardons & Clemency

A person who’s been convicted of a federal crime might be looking at considerable time behind bars. Some might maintain that they shouldn’t have to serve their entire sentence. Others may admit that they committed the crime, but might be truly sorry for the situation. There are even some who maintain their innocence despite the conviction. 

Sometimes, people who are convicted of a federal crime might opt to pursue a petition for commutation or pardon. These are sometimes thought of as being interchangeable but they aren’t. 

What’s commutation?

In the simplest terms, commutation shows mercy on a person. It can mean that the sentence is reduced from what the court originally handed down. In the instance of a federal charge, only the President of the United States can grant a commutation. The commutation can be partial or complete, depending on the circumstances and what’s appropriate in the matter. 

What’s a pardon?

A pardon gives you the forgiveness of your charges, but it doesn’t do away with the conviction. A pardon is used after the person has served their sentence. It’s often granted because of a person’s good conduct since the conviction and when the person has accepted responsibility for their actions that resulted in the criminal charge.

Anyone who’s been convicted of a federal crime should learn about commutation and pardons to determine whether they qualify for either. If you opt to pursue one, be sure that you work with someone who’s familiar with the petition process. This can help you to have less stress while ensuring that things are being handled properly.