May 24, 2015
A pardon is an act of mercy that absolves a person from all or part of punishment they have been sentenced to by law. The governor is the only person who can grant a pardon and at least two state cabinet members must be in agreement. Learn more about the pardons and when they are granted, here:
Clemency in Florida
Clemency is mercy or leniency extended to an individual who has been convicted of a crime. Only state governors may grant clemency for state crimes, while only the president may grant clemency for federal crimes.
In Florida, the governor and three members of his cabinet make up the Clemency Board, which is responsible granting and denying acts of clemency, including pardons. Florida law states that the governor may, “suspend collection of fines and forfeitures, grant reprieves not exceeding sixty days and, with the approval of two members of the cabinet, grant full or conditional pardons, restore civil rights, commute punishment, and remit fines and forfeitures for offenses.”
Florida law does not recognize a pardon as the expungement of a crime. Once pardoned, the crime will still exist on your record but it will show that you have been pardoned.
Who Is Eligible For a Pardon?
There are several requirements that must be met before you are eligible to receive a pardon. These include:
– At least 10 years must have passed since you completed your sentence. This includes parole, probation, community control, control release, and conditional release.
– All monetary penalties and liabilities resulting from any criminal or traffic convictions must be paid if they total more than $1,000.
– Any restitution owed to victims of your criminal action must be paid.
Pardon Eligibility Exceptions
The basic requirements for pardon eligibility are fairly strict, but you may request a waiver for any of them as long as two years have passed since you were first convicted and you do not owe any restitution to victims. If you were sentenced to a mandatory minimum sentence, you must serve at least one-third of your sentence before requesting a waiver. Still, there are loopholes to these exceptions.
Because pardons are left up to the discretion of the governor, any exception in eligibility may be made if a “compelling need” is found. A compelling need may exist, for example, if someone is diagnosed with a terminal illness after being convicted. The governor may decide to grant this person a pardon so they can be with their family during their final days. However, some governors are more keen on granting pardons than others, and just because a need seems to exist does mean a pardon will be granted.
Factors that may weigh on your chances of being pardoned include the seriousness of the crime, how long ago you were convicted, your success as rehabilitation and your level of remorse.
Restoring Civil Rights
The state offers an alternative option to pardons, which restores all your rights as a U.S. citizen, except for those related to guns, without actually being absolved of your punishment. Generally, it is much easier to have your rights restored than it is to be granted a pardon, as it does not require the 10-year waiting period. You may apply to have your rights restored as soon as you complete your sentence, so long as all fines, court fees and restitution has been paid.
How An Attorney Can Help
The process of applying for a pardon is extensive, requiring details of your criminal history and a convincing reason behind your request. The more detailed and convincing your application is, the better your chances are of being pardoned. An attorney can help you strengthen your application for your best shot at being relieved of your punishment. If you feel you deserve a pardon, contact the Khonsari Law Group for a free consultation today.