What is executive clemency

Executive clemency petitions usually request either a pardon after a completion of sentence or a commutation–reduction of sentence–currently being served. A presidential pardon serves as an official statement of forgiveness for the commission of a federal crime and restores basic civil rights.

Acts of clemency include the president’s power to pardon, commute and give respite and remission.


Federal Convictions Only

Under the Constitution, the President has the authority to grant pardon for federal offenses, including those adjudicated in the United States District Courts, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, and military courts-martial.

The President cannot pardon a state criminal offense. Accordingly, if you are seeking clemency for a state criminal conviction, you should not complete and submit this petition. Instead, you should contact the Governor or other appropriate authorities of the state where the conviction occurred (e.g., the state board of pardons and paroles) to determine whether any relief is available to you under state law.

Five Year Waiting Period

Under the Department’s rules governing petitions for executive clemency, an applicant must satisfy a minimum waiting period of five years before he becomes eligible to apply for a presidential pardon of his federal conviction. The waiting period begins to run on the date of the petitioner’s release from confinement. Alternatively, if the conviction resulted in a sentence that did not include any form of confinement, the waiting period begins on the date of sentencing.

A waiver of any portion of the waiting period is rarely granted and then only in the most exceptional circumstances. In order to request a waiver, you must complete the pardon application form and submit it with a letter explaining why you believe the waiting period should be waived in your case.


President Carter, by Proclamation of January 21, 1977, pardoned certain persons who, during the Vietnam War era, violated the Military Selective Service Act by draft-evasion acts or omissions committed between August 4, 1964 and March 28, 1973. If you believe your conviction is covered by President Carter’s Proclamation and you can provide the required documentation from your criminal case that will enable us to verify that you are covered by the Proclamation, you may obtain an individual certificate of pardon evidencing the fact that this Pardon Proclamation applies to you.

Clemency under the criminal justice system is the act by an executive member of government of extending mercy to a convicted individual. In the United States,clemency is granted by a governor for state crimes and by a president for federal crimes.

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. … A common use of commutation is to reduce a death penalty verdict to life in prison.

Clemency Hearing

A clemency hearing happens when the inmate asks the Governor to grant clemencyor stop the execution. The Governor does not have to give the inmate a clemency hearing. The Governor may instead deny or grant clemency without a hearing.

Expungement vs Clemency

When it comes to expungements and pardons, many people do not know thedifference between the two, and they do not know which one they should pursue and why they should pursue it. In their simplest terms, an expungement seals a criminal record, and a pardon is executive forgiveness for the offense.