What does it take to apply for a Federal Pardon?
As with all federal applications, the process seems very simple at first. The nuts and bolts of a federal pardon application, however, can get cumbersome, confusing, and downright daunting. This post is a first-step for anybody looking to apply for a federal pardon and clear their good name.
Only a few requirements exist to let a federal convict know they’re eligible to apply, and they are all found in § 28 C.F.R. 1.1 Here’s your easy checklist:
- You must have a federal crime you want pardoned;
- You must NOT be currently incarcerated;
- In fact, you must be free from confinement for at least 5 years;
- If incarceration wasn’t a part of your sentence, you have to have been sentenced to probation at least 5 years ago;
- You have been released from probation or supervised release, and are fully ‘free’ from the federal criminal justice system;
- BONUS: don’t have any more criminal convictions (local, state, or federal) since your federal conviction.
What Does it REALLY Take??
So now that the preliminary requirements are out of the way, the real question becomes: what sets my application apart? There is no single answer to this question, but we’ll set out a few things that could really help you stand out, then add in some nuggets that we do that give it an extra push. Remember, an application like this should be treated more like a resume or college entrance application than a bland court motion or driver’s license application. Make it pop!
As anybody could imagine, there are hundreds of federal pardon applications submitted to the President every year. Whats worse, Obama has the worst pardon record of any modern president. However, with his presidency coming to a close, and more clemency/pardon grants this last 12 months than his previous 5 years, things are looking up.
Now seems to be the time to apply and get in line for his last days of office, where most past presidents have made the most pardons.
Staying Out of Trouble Isn’t Enough
While being crime/conviction free for at least five years is a good start, you’ll be one amongst many. The process for applying for a pardon is short, but designing your life and activities (think volunteerism and philanthropy) around the idea of applying for a pardon could take time.
If you don’t have any selfless acts to put on your application, it can seem a bit anemic. Volunteer to serve food at your local homeless shelter, or donate blankets. It doesn’t take much to become a part of something like this. Think of your local VFW, who are always looking for volunteers for some function or another.
Restitution order in your case? Make sure its paid off. Fines? Make sure they’re paid too unless you intend to apply for a pardon of just the financial sanction.
Find Three People to Vouch for you
Any group of people are just fine to write letters vouching for your character, but it takes more than that to make an impression. People who know you personally, and are in a position of power (privately or in government) are optimum choices for Character Reference Letters. You need three of these, as the title of this section states.
Try finding two close, personal relationships that would be more than willing to write a letter attesting to your spotless integrity. Then save the last letter for a big name. Contact your U.S. Congressman, your U.S. Senators, state governor, lieutenant governor, mayor, state legislators, or the head of your state democratic/republican parties (whichever way you lean)
Applicants to the military service academies are required to get letters like this to go there. Or at least they used to be required. Anyway, requests for letters like this are not uncommon at a congressperson’s office, and their staff will tell you just what you need to do to make the request, and maybe even get it. How would your pardon application look with a Senator’s name pushing it?
Your life, outside the criminal justice system, is uniquely yours. Crafting the application’s pages to make you as sympathetic and ‘human’ as possible goes a long way. Defense lawyers spend most of their energy at sentencing hearings ‘humanizing’ their client so the presiding judge remembers that the years behind bars he is about to pronounce actually affect a real, live person.
Your pardon application works in the same way. Make your self a real, live person to the first faceless bureaucrat who sees your application and you will be ahead of the game.
Put the Power of PCR Behind your Pardon Application!
Contact PCR Consultants for a free consultation on federal pardons.
p. (480) 382-9287