Clemencies and pardons are two areas of the law in which having a deep understanding of them is extremely important. When faced with a legal situation that could present the opportunity of clemency or pardon, understanding is crucial. However, how does one know which is fitting of their situation?
According to the Florida Commission on Offender Review, clemency is “the constitutionally authorized process that provides the means through which convicted felons may be considered for relief from punishment and seek restoration of their civil rights.”
In simpler terms, that means that clemency is a process, which is legal through the United States Constitution, and may be available to convicted felons. In this process, the convicted offender can have their punishment time cut down and their civil rights brought back to them.
What Kinds of Clemency and Pardons Exist in Florida?
There are different types of pardons, and they all fall under the larger umbrella of clemencies. First, there is a full pardon, in which the person’s record for the crime is cleaned, prison time is eliminated, and all rights fully restored.
This can also include the ability to own and possess firearms. Along the same lines as a full pardon, but without the firearms, is the pardon without firearms authority where everything else is the same in the full pardon, except for the ability to possess, use, or fire guns.
There are also pardons for other specific areas. For example, there is also a pardon for misdemeanors. This means the person is forgiven of their guilt, and they are released from their punishment. There is also the remission of fines and forfeitures. This means the person’s fines or forfeitures can be reduced, suspended, or removed entirely.
Another type of clemency is the commutation of a sentence. This means the person is still serving their penalty, however, the time or amount of penalty is reduced. It is important to note that a commutation does not restore civil rights or the ability to use, possess, or own firearms.
For people looking to restore their ability to own, possess, or use firearms, after a felony conviction, Florida will only consider those cases where the crime took place in Florida, and the case could not be through out-of-state or federal courts.
This is due to federal laws in place in the United States. People also wish to have their civil rights restored after a felony conviction in Florida, but they will not still be able to have firearms access or usage. These rights include voting.
People who are not citizens of the United States, but are here legally and have been convicted of a felony, or one that is considered a felony under the law in Florida, can also apply for clemency. However, in this situation, it is important to note they are not able to use, possess, or own any firearms, and the rights will not impact their immigration status in the United States.
What Should I Expect When Looking to Earn Clemency in Florida?
Earning clemency is not an easy process or achievement. There is a very specific process in which each step must be followed exactly. Without that, the attempt for clemency is dead in the water. It cannot move on.
In Florida, the person must apply for clemency. The application is located on the Florida Commission on Offender Review’s website. After completing and then submitting the application, it is reviewed by the Office of Executive Clemency.
There are required time frames that must be followed, and court documents must also be included during the review process. Again, without this, there is no way for the clemency to move forward.
After the review process, if a person is found to be eligible, the application moves to the next step. At this step, the case is investigated by the Office of Executive Clemency. Each case is assigned to a specific examiner in the field. At that time, the examiner continues to research and investigate the case.
After the examiner concludes their investigation, the application will go one of two ways. If it is not approved, the person is notified as to what failed to have the clemency granted, as well as any additional steps that could be taken next.
However, if the application is approved, the case is passed along to the Clemency Board. If clemency is granted, the person is notified, and they also receive a Certificate of Civil Rights certificate via the mail.
Costs to Apply for Clemency in Florida
People get concerned when costs are brought up for things, and when it comes to legal situations, the concern is definitely there. In Florida, the state does not require an application fee to apply for clemency. Not all states follow this same procedure. However, in Florida, this service is free of charge.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Apply for Clemency or a Pardon in Florida?
The simple answer – no. Nobody is required to have a lawyer to apply for clemency. However, having a lawyer who understands Florida law, as well as if they have experience with other people previously applying for clemency, having a lawyer can be extremely valuable.
Remember, if there are any issues with the application, the hope for clemency is gone before it is even passed on for a final decision. Having a lawyer on your side to help is a big advantage.
If you or someone you know is hoping to apply for clemency in the state of Florida, first refer to the frequently asked questions from the Florida Commission on Offender Review. Then, consider reaching out to a lawyer to get expert help and answers to any other questions you may have.
The Lopez Law Group and You
Lawyers are there to help people from start to finish. At the Lopez Law Group, the relationship is not over when someone is convicted of a crime. The Lopez Law Group is there to help people through the process of applying for clemency.
From a better understanding of the differences between the types of pardons to helping people understand the timelines and process, having someone on your side with the knowledge and understanding of pardons and clemency according to Florida law is huge.
Give us a call at 727-933-0015 so we can provide you with top-notch clemency and pardon representation!