Serving You and The State of Florida
If you have plead guilty or been convicted of a crime in the state of Florida, it can feel as though you will never escape the burden of a criminal conviction on your record. The burden of a criminal conviction can impact every aspect of your life, from employment to housing opportunities. However, all hope is not lost.
In the state of Florida, you are allowed to seek relief in the form of clemency from the Office of the Governor. If granted clemency, you can escape the stain of a criminal conviction on your record, and possibly see full restitution of your rights such as the right to vote and own a firearm.
What is Clemency?
The term “clemency” encompasses numerous forms of post-conviction relief. The word “clemency” is defined as an “act of instance of leniency.” Seeking clemency from the Governor can assist those with a criminal conviction in their background in a multitude of ways.
Clemency is a constitutional process of restoring civil rights to convicted felons and is seen as a relief from punishment and a granting of mercy, absolving the individual from all, or part, of the punishment imposed by the law.
The power to grant clemency rests solely with the Governor, who must also have the agreement of two cabinet members who are also state elected officials.
Types of Clemency
There are seven different types of clemency in Florida, and each exists for a specific purpose. Juveniles who were not adjudicated guilty in adult court are not eligible for any form of clemency.
If you think you may be eligible for relief through clemency, it is crucial that you consult with a Florida attorney who has experience with the clemency process and can help you understand how to pursue this type of relief. At The Lopez Law Group, we know how difficult a criminal conviction in your past can make your future. If you want to pursue clemency and think you might be eligible, let us help you through the process.
A full pardon is an unconditional release from punishment and complete forgiveness of guilt for any convictions in Florida. If you are granted a full pardon, you will have all the rights you possessed before your conviction, including the right to own a firearm.
Pardon Without Firearm Authority
This type of pardon releases a person from punishment and offers forgiveness of guilt, but it does not restore the right to own, possess, or use a firearm. It does restore the right to vote and helps mitigate any future damage by cleansing your record.
Pardon for Misdemeanor
A pardon for a misdemeanor does away with any punishment and forgives guilt.
Commutation of Sentence
A Commutation of Sentence can change the penalty to one less severe, but it does not restore any civil rights nor the right to own, possess or use a firearm.
Remission of Fines and Forfeitures
If your crime resulted in fines and forfeitures, this pardon could suspend, reduce, or remove the fines and forfeitures. If the punishment for your crime placed a substantial financial burden on you or you lost or stand to lose a valuable asset, this would be the type of clemency you would seek.
Specific Authority to Own, Possess, or Use Firearms
The most important thing to understand is that due to federal firearm laws, the Florida Office of the Governor and the Clemency Board will not consider your requests if you are convicted in Federal or out-of-state courts. A Presidential Pardon or a Relief of Disability from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms must be issued if it is a federal conviction.
This clemency restores the civil right of owning, possessing, and using a firearm, which is lost as a result of a felony conviction in the state of Florida.
Restoration of Civil Rights in Florida
The Restoration of Civil Rights in Florida restores all the rights an applicant enjoyed before the felony conviction, with the exception of the specific authority to own, possess, and use firearms. The restoration of these civil rights does not relieve you of registration and notification, or other restrictions imposed on sexual offenders.
In the restoration of civil rights, only the right to vote is restored. The right to sit on a jury or to hold a public office can only be obtained through the Board of Executive Clemency as a different application.
Restoration of Alien Status Under Florida Law
An applicant who is not a citizen of the United States is restored such rights, which were lost as a result of a conviction of a crime. Restoration of these rights does not affect the immigration status of the applicant.
What Does Getting a Pardon Do for Me?
A pardon has the effect of unconditionally releasing a person from punishment and forgives the guilty for the Florida conviction that is the subject of the pardon. The person is essentially restored to the place they were before the arrest and/or conviction. The removal of any civil liberties such as the ability to vote, the ability to serve in public office, the right to sit on a jury, and the ability to possess firearms can all be restored through a pardon.
What Does it Mean if My Sentence is Commuted?
A commutation of sentence may reduce the time you spend incarcerated, or on supervised release and or community control (parole or probation), or other penalties associated with the conviction that resulted in the sentence. Unlike a pardon, a commutation of the sentence does not have the effect of restoring civil rights to an individual that lost them as a result of a felony conviction.
How do I Know if I am Eligible for Clemency in the State of Florida?
Eligibility for clemency in Florida is dictated by which forms of clemency you are seeking and the type of offense you committed. The clemency process in Florida is complicated and has faced criticism for being laborious and challenging.
The state’s clemency system is backlogged and in need of reform. The state voted overwhelmingly to restore voting rights to convicted felons who have served their time, but the right is still suspended as lawmakers hammer out whether they will be required to pay all legal costs and fees. Meanwhile, the restoration of civil rights is about more than voting.
Without the restoration of their civil rights, those convicted of felonies cannot get a bond needed to take a job like that of a security guard, or obtain occupational licenses to sell real estate, or cut hair. Complicating the process of achieving the restoration of rights makes it difficult for former felons to rejoin society as productive citizens, while it does nothing to act as a deterrent against crime.
Given that Florida’s clemency system is one of the most antiquated in the United States, you need the help of an experienced attorney to pursue clemency. The Lopez Law Group will listen to your story, pull your criminal records, and offer you an honest assessment of the chances of receiving a pardon. We will discuss the types of clemency, and which one best fits your circumstances and needs.
Determining Clemency Eligibility
Clemency is not granted to just anyone who applies. In fact, only a handful of people are granted clemency out of the many who apply. Having an attorney can improve your odds of successfully being granted clemency. There are five factors which play a significant role in the likelihood of an individual being granted clemency. These are:
- Seriousness and recentness of the offense—a less serious crime that happened a decade or more ago, versus a serious crime that happened a few years ago, is far more likely to win clemency.
- Post-conviction conduct, character, and reputation—if you have remained out of legal trouble, held a steady job, and otherwise conduct yourself as a model citizen, you improve your chances of being granted clemency.
- Acceptance of responsibility and expression of genuine remorse—this one is self-explanatory. If you have expressed genuine remorse for your crime, or crimes, and own the responsibility for the actions that resulted in the conviction, you will have a better chance of clemency.
- The need for relief—if the loss of rights or the ongoing punishment for the crime is causing substantial harm, you stand a better chance than someone who simply wants to “clear their good name.”
- Official recommendations and reports—if your probation officer was impressed by how hard you worked to turn your life around, or a member of law enforcement has worked with you and come to know your current character and your remorse, those things can be powerful motivators for clemency. When you consult with The Lopez Law Group, we will discuss potential recommendations and reports you can seek to improve your chances of receiving clemency.
Clemency is most beneficial for those who received harsh punishment for their crimes. The Lopez Law Group can help you seek a reduction in your sentence and the restoration of any rights that you might be eligible for under the rules of clemency in Florida. Contact us today to schedule a consultation at 727-933-0015.
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