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Pardons & Clemency

Requesting Pardons and Clemency in Ohio and at the Federal Level

What is a pardon and who grants one?

Criminal pardons represent official forgiveness for offenses. However, when the governor of Ohio issues a pardon to a person convicted of violating a state law, the charge, prosecution and sentence remain on that person’s record. Sealing or expunging a record requires going through a different process. The same holds true when a U.S. president grants a federal pardon.

Does clemency differ from a pardon?

Technically, a pardon is an act of clemency because the word “clemency” itself means “mercy.” Clemency law also allows governors and presidents to provide relief from convictions that do not amount to full pardons.

What kinds of clemency can be requested?

Governors and presidents can grant commutations and reprieves. A commutation represents a reduction in a sentence, such as lowering a prison term from life to 20 years or changing incarceration to house arrest. A commutation may be subject to conditions, such as wearing an ankle monitor and reporting to a parole officer after being released from prison before the end of the original sentence.

A reprieve is a temporary suspension or delay of one or more terms of a sentence. An example would be being allowed to leave prison for a 72-hour period to attend a funeral and settle family matters.

How do I apply for a pardon or clemency from the Ohio governor?

The Ohio Parole Board accepts, reviews and makes recommendations on nearly all requests for felony pardons, commutations, and sentencing reprieves. Applications for relief from the death penalty also go through the board but are handled in a slightly different manner.

The clemency application form must include a complete record of all arrests and convictions, a clear indication of which conviction(s) should be pardoned or lessened, and a full employment record. Letters of support for relief written and signed by respected members of society can also be submitted, as can copies of diplomas and work certifications.

Having a criminal pardons attorney assist with collecting, organizing, and presenting this information is highly recommended. Leaving out details can reduce the likelihood of receiving clemency. The goal is to show that the applicant is an upstanding member of their community.

How do I apply for a pardon or clemency from the U.S. president?

Applications for federal pardons and clemency go through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of the Pardon Attorney. Applicants must wait at least five years following their conviction before requesting clemency, and each completed application form must be accompanied by at least three written, signed, and notarized character references.

What happens after a state clemency application is filed?

The Ohio Parole Board conducts an investigation. It will then either request a hearing or pass a report with recommendations directly to the governor. The applicant and their lawyer can appear and speak at a clemency hearing.

What happens after a federal clemency application is filed?

All federal pardon and clemency processes are carried out in writing, including requests for clarification of information submitted as part of the application.

Putting together pardon and clemency requests requires a great deal of work. Decisions can take years to arrive. You may only get one real chance to ensure your application is as complete as possible and includes information that convinces the governor or president to act mercifully. Hiring an experienced Ohio pardon appeals law firm like Campbell Law can help you succeed. Call us at (614) 356-8515 or request a free consultation online.