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A Record Number of Pardons and Clemencies

September 23, 2016 By Jeff King

The White House recently announced that the President extended over 100 clemencies to recipients serving time in prison. To date, the President has used this power to reduce the sentences of 673 people. This amounts to more than the past ten presidents combined. Of course this is a ray of hope for those serving time but, given how many people are in the system, the chances of actually being pardoned are still slim.


The power of the President to pardon the crimes and commute the sentences of prisoners is found in the U.S. Constitution. Article II, Section 2, Clause i, empowers the President to issue pardons and grant reprieves in sentences to those who have committed crimes against the United States. But this power is limited to those serving time for federal crimes.


A Presidential pardon applies to those who were convicted in the federal criminal justice system and they are investigated primarily by federal police forces. These can include the FBI, CIA, DEA, Federal Marshals, and other federal law enforcement agencies.


Federal crimes are also different in how they are prosecuted and adjudicated. If a person is charged with a federal crime, it will by a U.S. Attorney working for the Department of Justice, and the criminal proceedings will take place in a federal court presided over by a federal judge or magistrate. The President is only empowered to pardon and commute offenders who are serving time under the federal system.


Texas Pardons System


The Texas pardon system is entirely different from the federal system. The basic structure of how crimes are investigated is similar but, when it comes to pardons and commutations, the governor of the state of Texas is much more limited in what he can do. In fact, the real power of pardons and commutations in Texas rests in the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.


Before the governor can pardon someone or commute their sentence, he must first have a written recommendation by the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Under rare circumstances, the governor is allowed to grant a pardon without support by the Board. Getting that recommendation is lengthy and costly, but often it is a person’s last chance for clemency while serving a lengthy or life ending sentence in the state criminal justice system.


Fight Your Charges Now


There are several lessons to take away from this information. The most important being that fighting charges now and defending yourself is a priority because your chances of getting a presidential or governor’s pardon are slim. So, what can you do? Start by educating yourself on who is the right attorney to do the job that needs to be done in your defense. That attorney will have experience, know-how, and talent.


Jeff King is the Dallas criminal defense lawyer you need to defend your case. Whether you are facing federal, state, or military justice, charges, Jeff has the expertise your case deserves. Contact us today, and we will help you understand what your options are and what we can do to help you.


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