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A pardon is the forgiveness of a crime and the penalty associated with it. It is granted by a head of state, such as a monarch or president, or by a competent church authority. Clemency is an associated term, meaning the lessening of the penalty of the crime without forgiving the crime itself. The act of clemency is a reprieve. Today, pardons and reprieves are granted in many countries when individuals have demonstrated that they have fulfilled their debt to society, or are otherwise deserving (in the opinion of the pardoning official) of a pardon or reprieve. Pardons are sometimes offered to persons who claim they have been wrongfully convicted. Some believe accepting such a pardon implicitly constitutes an admission of guilt, so in some cases the offer is refused (cases of wrongful conviction are nowadays more often dealt with by appeal than by pardon). Clemency is often requested by foreign governments that do not practice capital punishment when one of their citizens has been sentenced to death by a foreign nation that does practice it.
Pardons and clemency by country
Canadian Pardons are considered by the National Parole Board under the Criminal Records Act, the Criminal Code and several other laws. For Criminal Code crimes there is a three-year waiting period for summary offences, and a five-year waiting period for indictable offences. The waiting period commences after the sentence is completed. In principle the information provided above is correct but most convictions have additional time allocated due to court imposed fines, probation and other convictions.
U.S. courts. Not in English/Welsh courts. Scottish courts. English/Welsh courts. Canadian courts.
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Completing a Canadian pardon application is a complex and time-consuming process, and any error in the application may cause needless and costly delays. Processing time for each application depends on whether it qualifies as an emergency. For regular applications, the typical process can take a year or two, or more. Emergency Pardons are difficult to obtain, and are evaluated on a caseby-case basis by the National Parole Board. Once pardoned, a criminal records search for that individual reveals "no record".
given a sufficient delay before execution so that their requests for clemency could be examined. If granted, clemency would usually entail a commutation to a life sentence. The Parliament of France, on occasions, grants amnesty. This is a different concept and procedure from that described above, although the phrase "presidential amnesty" (amnistie présidentielle) is sometimes pejoratively applied to some acts of parliament traditionally voted upon after a presidential election, granting amnesty for minor crimes.
In Canada, clemency is granted by the Governor-General of Canada or the Governor in Council (the federal cabinet) under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy. Applications are also made to the National Parole Board, as in pardons, but clemency may involve the commutation of a sentence, or the remission of all or part of the sentence, a respite from the sentence (for a medical condition) or a relief from a prohibition (e.g., to allow someone to drive that has been prohibited from driving).
Similar to the United States, the right to grant pardon in Germany is divided between the federal and the state level. Federal jurisdiction in matters of criminal law is mostly restricted to appeals against decisions of state courts. Only "political" crimes like treason or terrorism are tried on behalf the federal government by the highest state courts. Accordingly, the category of persons eligible for a federal pardon is rather narrow. The right to grant a federal pardon lies in the office of the President of Germany, but he or she can transfer this power to other persons, such as the chancellor or the minister of justice. In early 2007 there was a widespread public discussion about the granting of pardons in Germany after convicted Red Army Faction terrorist Christian Klar, serving a six times life imprisonment sentence since 1982 and not eligible for parole until at least 2009, filed a petition for pardon. President Horst Köhler ultimately denied his request. For all other (and therefore the vast majority of) convicts, pardons are in the jurisdiction of the states. In some states it is granted by the respective cabinet, but in most states the state constitution vests the authority in the state prime minister. As on the federal level, the authority may be transferred. Amnesty can be granted only by federal law.
Pardons and acts of clemency (grâces) are granted by the President of France, who, ultimately, is the sole judge of the propriety of the measure. It is a prerogative of the President which is directly inherited from that of the Kings of France. The convicted person sends a request for pardon to the President of the Republic. The prosecutor of the court that pronounced the verdict reports on the case, and the case goes to the Ministry of Justice’s directorate of criminal affairs and pardons for further consideration. If granted, the decree of pardon is signed by the President, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice and possibly other ministers involved in the consideration of the case. It is not published in the Journal Officiel. The decree may spare the applicant from serving the balance of his or her sentence, or commute the sentence to a lesser one. It does not suppress the right for the victim of the crime to obtain compensation for the damages it suffered, and does not erase the condemnation from the criminal record. When the death penalty was in force in France, almost all capital sentences resulted in a presidential review for a possible clemency. Sentenced criminals were routinely
The Constitution of Greece grants the power of pardon to the President of the Republic (Art. 47, § 1). He can pardon, commute or remit punishment imposed by any court, on the proposal of the Minister of Justice and after receiving the opinion (not the consent necessarily) of the Pardon Committee.
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convicted criminals "The right of pardon and the power to commute or remit punishment imposed by any court exercising criminal jurisdiction are hereby vested in the President, but such power of commutation or remission may also be conferred by law on other authorities".
Prior to the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997, the power of pardon was a royal prerogative of mercy of the monarch of the United Kingdom. This was used and cited the most often in cases of inmates who had been given the death penalty: from 1965 to 1993 (when the death penalty was formally abolished) those who were sentenced to death were automatically commuted to life imprisonment under the Royal Prerogative. Since the handover, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong now exercises the power to grant pardons and commute penalties under section 12 of article 48 Basic Law of Hong Kong. "The Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall exercise the following powers and functions... To pardon persons convicted of criminal offences or commute their penalties".
In Israel the President of Israel has the power to pardon criminals or give them clemency. The pardon is given following a recommendation by the Minister of Justice. After the Kav 300 affair President Chaim Herzog issued a pardon to four members of the Shin Bet prior to them being indicted. This unusual act was the first of its kind in Israel.
In Italy, the President of the Republic may “ ... grant pardons, or commute punishments ...” according to article 87 of the Italian Constitution. Like other acts of the president, the pardon requires the countersignature of the competent government minister. The Constitutional Court of Italy has ruled that the Minister of Justice is obliged to sign acts of pardon. The pardon may remove the punishment altogether or change its form. Unless the decree of pardon states otherwise, the pardon does not remove any incidental effects of a criminal conviction, such as a mention in a certificate of conduct (174 c.p.). According to article 79 of the Italian Constitution the Parliament may grant amnesty (article 151 c.p.) and pardon (article 174 c.p.) by law deliberated a majority of two thirds of the components.
Under the Constitution of India (Article 72), the President of India can grant a pardon or reduce the sentence of a convicted person, particularly in cases involving capital punishment. A similar & parallel power vests in the Governors of each State under Article 161. However, it is important to note that India has a unitary structure of government and there is no body of state law. All crimes are crimes against the Union of India. Therefore, a convention has developed that the Governor’s powers is exercised for only minor offenses, while requests for pardons and reprieves for major offenses and offenses committed in the Union Territories are deferred to the President. Both the President and Governor are bound by the advice of their respective Councils of Ministers & hence the exercise of this power is of an executive character.It is therefore subject to Judicial Review (Maru Ram v Union of India, confirmed by Kehar Singh vs Union of India,1989).
In Poland, the President is granted the right of pardon by Article 133 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland. As for October 2008, 7819 people were pardoned, while 3046 people’s appeals were declined. • Lech Wałęsa • approved - 3454 • declined - 384 • Aleksander Kwaśniewski • approved - 3295 (the first term); 795 (the second term); total - 4090 • declined - 993 (the first term); 1317 (the second term); total - 2310
In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Supreme Leader has the power to pardon and offer clemency under Article 110, § 1, §§ 11.
Under the Constitution of Ireland Art 13 Sec 6 the President of Ireland can pardon
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• Lech Kaczyński (until October 2007) • approved - 77 • declined - 550
the absolute power of the monarch to pardon and release an individual who had been convicted of a crime from that conviction and its intended penalty. Pardons were granted to many in the 18th century on condition that the convicted felons accept transportation overseas, such as to Australia. The first General Pardon in England was issued in celebration of the coronation of Edward III in 1327. In 2006 all British soldiers executed for cowardice during World War I were pardoned, resolving a long-running controversy about the justice of their executions. (See Armed Forces Act 2006, .) There are significant procedural differences in the present use of the royal pardon, however. Today the monarch may only grant a pardon on the advice of the Home Secretary or the First Minister of Scotland (or the Defence Secretary in military justice cases), and the policy of the Home Office and Scottish Executive is only to grant pardons to those who are "morally" innocent of the offence (as opposed to those who may have been wrongly convicted by misapplication of the law). Pardons are generally no longer issued prior to conviction, but only after conviction. A pardon is no longer considered to remove the conviction itself, but only removes the penalty which was imposed. Use of the prerogative is now rare, particularly since the establishment of the Criminal Cases Review Commission and Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, which provide a statutory remedy for miscarriages of justice. To this end, the granting of pardons is very rare and the vast majority of recognised miscarriages of justice were decided upon by the courts. During the Birmingham Six controversy, then Home Secretary Douglas Hurd stressed that he could only make the decision for a pardon if he was "convinced of innocence", which at the time he was not. One notorious recent case was that of the drug smugglers John Haase and Paul Bennett. They were pardoned in July 1996 from 18-year sentences, having served ten months, on the advice of then Home Secretary Michael Howard. This was intended to reward them for information they gave to the authorities, but there was speculation about Howard’s motives. In 2008, they were given 20-year and 22-year sentences after it was found that their information was unreliable. In 1980, the Home Secretary William Whitelaw used the prerogative to free David
The President of the Russian Federation is granted the right of pardon by Article 89 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation. The Pardon Committee manages lists of people eligible for pardon and directs them to the President for signing. While President Boris Yeltsin frequently used his power of pardon, his successor Vladimir Putin was much more hesitant; in the final years of his presidency he did not grant pardons at all.
Under section 84(2)(j) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (Act 108 of 1996), the President of the Republic of South Africa is responsible for pardoning or reprieving offenders. This power of the President is only exercised in highly exceptional cases. To pardon a person is to forgive a person for his/her deeds. The pardon process is therefore not available to persons who maintain their innocence and is not an advanced form of appeal procedure. Pardon is only granted for minor offences after a period of 10 years has elapsed since the relevant conviction. For many serious offences (for example if the relevant court viewed the offence in such a serious light that direct imprisonment was imposed) pardon will not be granted even if more than 10 years have elapsed since the conviction.
In Switzerland, pardons may be granted by the Swiss Federal Assembly for crimes prosecuted by the federal authorities. For crimes under cantonal jurisdiction, cantonal law designates the authority competent to grant pardons (if any). In most cantons, the cantonal parliament may pardon felonies, and the cantonal government may pardon misdemeanors and minor infractions.
The power to grant pardons and reprieves is a royal prerogative of mercy of the monarch of the United Kingdom. It was traditionally in
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Cooper and Michael McMahon, two "murderers" convicted on poor evidence, after the courts refused to. They died in the 1990s, and were fully cleared posthumously. According to the Act of Settlement a pardon can not prevent a person from being impeached by Parliament, but may rescind the penalty following conviction. In England and Wales nobody may be pardoned for an offence under section 11 of the Habeas Corpus Act 1679 (unlawfully transporting prisoners out of England and Wales). 
expediency than to correct judicial error. One of the more famous recent pardons was granted by President Gerald Ford to former President Richard Nixon on September 8, 1974, for official misconduct which gave rise to the Watergate scandal. Polls showed a majority of Americans disapproved of the pardon, and Ford’s public-approval ratings tumbled afterward. Other controversial uses of the pardon power include Andrew Johnson’s sweeping pardons of thousands of former Confederate officials and military personnel after the American Civil War, Jimmy Carter’s grant of amnesty to Vietnam-era draft dodgers, George H. W. Bush’s pardons of 75 people, including six Reagan administration officials accused and/or convicted in connection with the Iran-Contra affair, and Bill Clinton’s commutation of sentences for 16 members of FALN in 1999 and of 140 people on his last day in office, including billionaire fugitive Marc Rich. Most recently, George W. Bush’s commutation of the prison term of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was controversial. The Justice Department recommends anyone requesting a pardon must wait five years after conviction or release prior to receiving a pardon. A presidential pardon may be granted at any time, however, and as when Ford pardoned Nixon, the pardoned person need not yet have been convicted or even formally charged with a crime. Clemency may also be granted without the filing of a formal request and even if the intended recipient has no desire to be pardoned. In the overwhelming majority of cases, however, the Pardon Attorney will consider only petitions from persons who have completed their sentences and, in addition, have demonstrated their ability to lead a responsible and productive life for a significant period after conviction or release from confinement. It appears that a pardon can be rejected, and must be affirmatively accepted to be officially recognized by the courts. Acceptance also carries with it an admission of guilt. However, the federal courts have yet to make it clear how this logic applies to persons who are deceased (such as Henry Ossian Flipper who was pardoned by Bill Clinton), those who are relieved from penalties as a result of general amnesties and those whose punishments are relieved via a commutation of sentence (which cannot be rejected in any sense of the language.)
See also: List of people pardoned or clemenced by a United States president In the United States, the pardon power for federal crimes is granted to the President of the United States under Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution states that the President "shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment." The Supreme Court of the United States has interpreted this language to include the power to grant pardons, conditional pardons, commutations of sentence, conditional commutations of sentence, remissions of fines and forfeitures, respites and amnesties.  All federal pardon petitions are addressed to the President, who grants or denies the request. Typically, applications for pardons are referred for review and nonbinding recommendation by the Office of the Pardon Attorney, an official of the United States Department of Justice. The percentage of pardons and reprieves granted varies from administration to administration (fewer pardons have been granted since World War II). The pardon power was controversial from the outset; many Anti-Federalists remembered examples of royal abuses of the pardon power in Europe, and warned that the same would happen in the new republic. Alexander Hamilton defended the pardon power in Federalist Papers, particularly in Federalist No. 74. In his final day in office, George Washington granted the first highprofile federal pardon to leaders of the Whiskey Rebellion. Many pardons have been controversial. Critics argue that pardons have been used more often for the sake of political
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The pardon power of the President extends only to offenses cognizable under federal law. However, the governors of most of the 50 states have the power to grant pardons or reprieves for offenses under state criminal law. In other states, that power is committed to an appointed agency or board, or to a board and the governor in some hybrid arrangement (in some states the agency is merged with that of the parole board, as in the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board). While a presidential pardon will restore various rights lost as a result of the pardoned offense and should lessen to some extent the stigma arising from a conviction, it will not erase or expunge the record of that conviction. Therefore, even if a person is granted a pardon, they must still disclose their conviction on any form where such information is required, although they may also disclose the fact that they received a pardon. In addition, most civil disabilities attendant upon a federal felony conviction, such as loss of the right to vote and hold state public office, are imposed by state rather than federal law, and also may be removed by state action. Because the federal pardon process is exacting and may be more time-consuming than analogous state procedures, pardon recipients may wish to consult with the appropriate authorities in the state of their residence regarding the procedures for restoring their state civil rights.
• : Complete or partial cancellation of the penalty of a crime, whilst still being considered guilty of said crime (i.e., reduced penalty). • : Temporary postponement of a punishment, usually so that the accused can mount an appeal (especially if he or she has been sentenced to death) • : Catch-all term for all of the above, or just referring to amnesty and pardons.
Among those who see some legitimate use for the power to pardon in some cases, there are those who see it as being susceptible to abuse if applied inconsistently, selectively, arbitrarily, or without strict, publicly accessible guidelines. The principle of the Rule of Law is intended to be a safeguard against such arbitrary governance. The ’rule of law’, in its most basic form, is the principle that no one is above the law. Thomas Paine stated in his pamphlet Common Sense (1776): "For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other." The history of this debate reaches at least as far back as Plato, and evidence of it is found in many cultures (see Overview of the Rule of Law).
These terms differ subtly from country-tocountry, but generally: • : ’Forgetting’ the crime, e.g. if a car thief witnesses a murder, he will often be granted amnesty for his crime in order to allow him to testify against the murderer, or after a civil war a mass amnesty may be granted to absolve all participants of guilt and ’move on’. Weapon amnesties are often granted so that people can hand in weapons to the police without any legal questions being asked as to where they obtained them/why they had them/etc. • : Substituting the penalty for a crime with the penalty for another, whilst still remaining guilty of the original crime (e.g., in the USA, someone who is guilty of murder may have their sentence commuted to life imprisonment rather than death)
• Rule of Law
 Bombing (Court Cases) (Hansard, 20 January 1987)  How a home secretary was hoodwinked  New Statesman article on Howard  it never feels a triumph  Dead men finally cleared of murder  P.S. Ruckman, Jr. 1997. "Executive Clemency in the United States: Origins, Development, and Analysis (1900-1993)," 27 Presidential Studies Quarterly, 251-271  http://www.rvc.cc.il.us/faclink/pruckman/ pardoncharts/all_files/image002.gif  "Clemency Regulations". United States Department of Justice. http://www.usdoj.gov/pardon/
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clemency.htm#pardon. Retrieved on 2007-03-08.  Burdick v. United States, 236 U.S. 79 (1915)  see Chapman v. Scott (C. C. A.) 10 F.(2d) 690)  Amnesty and Pardon - Terminology And Etymology  Amnesty and Pardon - Clemency Powers In The Twentieth Century  legal dictionary @ the free dictionary.com
• Pardon application for Canada United States • List of pardon/clemency policies for various U.S. states • Pardon Power Blog • USDOJ Office of the Pardon Attorney • Dershowitz, Alan M. (July 16 1989). "What’s Mercy Got To Do With It?". New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/ fullpage.html?res=950DE2DA103AF935A25754C0A96 Review of the book, Pardons: Justice, Mercy, and the Public Interest by Kathleen Dean Moore.