The definition of clemency is mercy or leniency. When a president exercises his constitutionally granted authority to formally pardon someone for committing a federal felony, this is known as a presidential pardon. Presidential pardons, in contrast to commutations, also remove all “disabilities” or collateral repercussions associated with a federal criminal conviction.
Pardons are often given following a favorable recommendation from the office of the pardon attorney and after the presidential pardon regulations have been applied to your specific situation.
Different presidents take different approaches
The U.S. Supreme Court refers to clemency as the “fail-safe” of the legal system. It gives chief administrators and the president of the United States the power to address injustices on an individual basis. This means that clemency serves as a safeguard in situations where the legal system fails to deliver justice.
President Obama demonstrated the power of the presidential pardon in 2014 when he launched The Clemency Project. He pardoned or commuted the sentences of at least 1,900 convicts who would have been given much lighter sentences based on changes made to various laws in the last decade. However, that’s an unusually high number of pardons for a president to make.
With a presidential pardon, you may be able to regain access to government services without any restrictions due to your criminal history, and you can also exercise your right to vote, own guns, receive student aid and enjoy other privileges. Additionally, a presidential pardon may relieve you of any fines, penalties or restitution that were imposed on you as part of your criminal sentence.
Starting the process
The process of seeking clemency via a presidential appeal is a long one that may take years to complete. That’s why you will need legal guidance from someone who specializes in this area.