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Are federal pardons used for misdemeanors? 

On Behalf of | May 28, 2024 | Pardons & Clemency

A federal pardon can be handed out by the President of the United States. This pardon can be given to someone who faces a conviction for a court marshall, a conviction in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, or a conviction in a district court elsewhere within the country.

As a general rule, though, pardons are not going to be used for misdemeanor convictions, even on federal charges. They are generally just used for felony charges, which are more serious than misdemeanors. The Department of Justice notes that the office has limited resources, so they want to focus on these more serious situations.

The civil impact

Additionally, they know that felony charges tend to create the most “civil disabilities.” Misdemeanor charges won’t have such a long-term impact.

For example, someone who has a felony on their record may lose certain rights, such as the right to possess a firearm or the right to vote. They will not necessarily lose these rights for a misdemeanor. As such, the pardon can be life-changing for this individual because they clear their record and get their rights back.

On top of that, felony convictions tend to carry longer sentences. Someone with a misdemeanor may have to pay fines and spend a short time behind bars, but someone with a felony could be looking at years or even decades of prison time. Once again, a pardon would be more beneficial for them, so pardons tend to focus on felony charges.

There are many different parts of the criminal justice system, and the process can certainly become complex. It’s important for all involved to carefully consider their legal defense options.