A letter of pardon is an appeal coming from an individual that has already been found guilty of a crime. This letter is submitted to the government to ask for forgiveness and a reversal of his or her guilty verdict. Asking for pardon is typically the next step taken after an individual has exhausted all avenues for appealing to overturn a conviction. In order to formally begin the procedures, the convicted criminal must submit a pardon letter. It is important to note that pardons are very rarely approved; however, since one has nothing to lose, it is still a good idea to try. To increase your chances of success, it is a must to consider the following guidelines.
- Get an appropriate and up-to-date copy of guidelines for applying for a pardon. Each state’s procedures for clemency application differ, so it is important that you contact a representative from the governor’s or the attorney general’s office and ask for a written copy of these guidelines. In order to get the correct information, be sure to provide specific details about the crime committed as well as in what jurisdiction it falls under. If you have committed a federal offense, you will need to contact the Office of the Pardon Attorney as these crimes falls under the influence of the U.S. Government.
- Check whether you are eligible for pardon. After securing a copy of the guidelines, verify if you qualify for requesting clemency prior to writing a pardon letter. Do not waste your time and chances for filing to soon. There are jurisdictions that require an offender to wait for two to ten years before applying for pardon, based on severity of the crime committed. Should you violate this waiting period, you might be required to wait for another five years before you can apply again.
- Prepare all of the pertinent documents. It is best that you confer with a qualified lawyer to find out which documents should you include in your appeal. This will also help you when you need to verify facts that you will write down on your pardon letter. Typically, you will be required to submit copies of the arrest record, and the documents relating to your indictment, judging, and sentencing. You may also be asked to provide records to back up your basis for requesting clemency. An example would be a certificate regarding your mental state, should you claim mental instability as your reason. You can also provide the requesting office with copies of recommendation letters from family members, employers, and friends. These letters will help put you in a positive light and could affect the decision of the governing body towards your favor.
- Write the pardon letter. Make sure that you abide by the format prescribed in the guidelines provided. If there is none, write your request as you would a business letter. Clearly express the details pertaining to the charges from which you are requesting to be pardoned as well as the reasons why you are asking for clemency. Do not falsify and exclude any details as these can be easily verified and could result to immediate rejection of your request. Include also all the facts about your rehabilitation, steps you have taken to pay for the crime you have committed, and any education, employment, or community service that you have gained or performed so far in connection with the crime. Remember that your goal in writing this letter is to prove that you are remorseful of what you have done and have already taken initiative in correcting your mistakes. End the pardon letter by requesting that a hearing be set in order to discuss your case.
The laws regarding clemency changes frequently and one can’t afford to commit an error when filing for pardon. To avoid mistakes in your request, it is always a good idea to consult a pardon service regarding your specific situation. Do not rush into the process. Have a lawyer scrutinize your application prior to filing.