Our office has extensive experience with preparing and submitting requests for executive clemency. If you would like to apply for a presidential pardon, please contact our office today to discuss how we can assist.
What Is A Presidential Pardon?
A presidential pardon forgives someone for committing a federal crime and restores their rights.
Under Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, the president is allowed to grant pardons to offenders for crimes against the United States. These pardons can be given in all cases, except in cases of impeachment. A presidential pardon can be granted before a person is convicted of a federal crime or after a person is convicted. A presidential pardon may also be granted with conditions attached to it.
Most people who apply for a presidential pardon have completed the punishment for a federal crime, have lived a law-abiding life for a long period of time, and want their civil rights restored that were taken away when they were convicted. These civil rights include the right to vote, the right to serve on a jury, the right to hold public office, and the right to own a gun. A presidential pardon may be the only way that a person can have these rights restored.
The decision on whether to grant someone a presidential pardon is usually based on a showing that the person has become a contributing member of society, has paid for their crime, and is unlikely to repeat their criminal behavior. Sometimes, the decision to grant someone a presidential pardon is controversial or is objected to by members of the public. In these cases, the person seeking a pardon must have community support, including from victims, prosecutors, and the sentencing judge.
How to Request a Federal Pardon
A person desiring a presidential pardon must submit an application to the Office of the Pardon Attorney. This can be done through an attorney, which we recommend. The Pardon Attorney’s Office is a part of the U.S. Department of Justice. An application for a federal pardon includes a thorough background investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), a consultation between the Office of the Pardon Attorney and all relevant parties involved (e.g. sentencing judges, the prosecuting attorney, probation officers, employers, and friends), and an examination of all relevant documents and records involved.
After this process is completed, the Pardon Attorney will submit a recommendation to the President through the Attorney General and White House Counsel. The Attorney General’s opinion about whether an individual should receive a pardon usually carries great weight with the President. Pardons are usually granted for these reasons:
- Legal – Irregularities at trial, insufficient evidence, or disclosure of new evidence
- Reformation of Character – If a person can show that they have changed their life
NOTE: In the event of a federal prisoner being near death, a compassionate release may be appropriate.