In the United States of America, the President is afforded rights under the Constitution to grant clemency to people who have been convicted of crimes. Each State also has its own Constitution which affords the Governor the same right for other offenses. What the process is will depend on the crime itself and where you are located.
The obvious benefit to a successful clemency application is to be pardoned and have a conviction cleared from your record. A full pardon forgives clears you of the crime you were convicted of and declares you legally innocent of it.
In addition to this, there are other benefits and other forms of clemency too.
Clemency can also mean a commutation of a sentence
A commutation of sentence does not find you innocent of the crime and does not have the effect of a pardon. Instead, it can result in a reduction of a prison or jail sentence, including a death sentence. It also includes reduction of probation, parole, and fine amounts.
Restoring Civil Rights lost as a result of the conviction
When you’re convicted of a felony, you lose certain Civil Rights. Receiving a pardon can help to get these rights restored, including the right to:
- own a gun
- hold a passport
- hold public office
- serve on a jury
- receive certain public benefits, such as those for housing
The process of applying for clemency involves preparing an application that carefully outlines all the factual and legal reasons why a pardon or commutation should be granted.
There’s a particular way that clemency applications should be written and a certain set of documents that should accompany them. Seeking the help of a legal professional who is experienced in this area can make sure you, or your loved one, has the best chance at being successful.