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Pardon Vs Clemency

Most people are probably aware what a pardon is. To refresh, a pardon is when a government executive forgives a certain criminal offense. While the offense stays on the person's criminal record, he is not subject to any further restrictions or criminal penalties that other convicts or ex-convicts may be subject to. In the case of a federal crime, a federal pardon must be granted by the President of the United States. In the case of a state crime, a state pardon must be granted by the governor, or in some states an entity such as a parole board acting on the state's behalf or in conjunction with the governor.

Those who know what a pardon is may experience some confusion when they hear about a governor or president offering clemency. What is clemency? Is it the same thing as a pardon or something different? Can it be obtained in the same way as a pardon? Read on to straighten out the distinction between pardon and clemency.

While clemency and pardon are not interchangeable, a pardon is a form of clemency. Clemency is a general term for reducing the penalties for a particular crime without actually clearing your criminal record. A clemency can come in the form of a pardon, which is forgiveness of a sentence, a commutation, which is reduction of a sentence, or a reprieve, which is a temporary putting off of punishment while the situation is analyzed further. Therefore a pardon is always clemency, but when someone receives clemency, it does not necessarily mean a pardon.

A pardon is meant to indicate forgiveness of a particular crime, either because a person was wrongfully convicted or the punishment was not appropriate for the crime committed. A commutation is a merciful act offered when it is determined that the penalty given was too harsh. A common use of commutation is to reduce a death penalty verdict to life in prison. A reprieve may be given when more information is needed before it can be determined that it is appropriate for a person to serve a particular sentence. This is also often used in death penalty situations.

It's important to note that in all cases of clemency, pardon or otherwise, the person's conviction is not overturned or removed from the public record. In fact, some people feel that accepting a pardon is tantamount to an admission of guilt. Those seeking to remove a criminal record will need to pursue expungement or having their record sealed. When a conviction is expunged, it is as if it never happened. There is no need for any kind of clemency because the crime is deleted from the record. This is obviously the ideal situation, and it happens more commonly than one might think. For many first offenses, even felonies, expungement is a real option.

If you think you may be eligible for expungement or any other kind of relief related to your criminal record, you can check it out using the free eligibility check at Just answer a few simple questions and you'll know very quickly whether expungement is an option for you or you need to pursue some other kind of clemency. You can also use the service to instantly get all the forms and information you need to correctly apply for expungement to the proper state or federal agency. If a judge finds your case compelling, can help you wipe your criminal record away.

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