An executive action that mitigates or sets aside punishment for a crime. An act of grace from governing power which mitigates the punishment the law demands for the offense and restores the rights and privileges forfeited on account of the offense. Verneco, Inc. v. Fidelity & Cas. Co. of New York, 253 La. 721, 219 So.2d 508, 511.
A pardon releases offender from entire punishment prescribed for offense and from disabilities consequent on his conviction; it reinstates his civil liberties. State ex rel. Herman v. Powell, 139 Mont. 583, 367 P.2d 553, 556.
The power to pardon for non-federal crimes is generally invested in state governors, while the President has the power to pardon for federal offenses (Art. II, Sec. 2, U.S.Const.).
See also amnesty
Distinguished from amnesty.
The distinction between amnesty and pardon is one rather of philological interest than of legal importance. Knote v. U. S., 95 U.S. 149, 153, 24 L.Ed. 442, 443.
This is so as to their ultimate effect, but there are incidental differences of importance. They are of different character and have different purposes. The one overlooks offense; the other remits punishment. The first is usually addressed to crimes against the sovereignty of the state, to political offenses, forgiveness being deemed more expedient for the public welfare than prosecution and punishment. The second condones infractions of the peace of the state. Amnesty is usually general, addressed to classes or even communities-a legislative act, or under legislation, constitutional or statutory--the act of the supreme magistrate. There may or may not be distinct acts of acceptance. If other rights are dependent upon it and are asserted, there is affirmative evidence of acceptance. Burdick v. U. S., 236 U.S. 79, 271, 35 S.Ct. 267, 59 L.Ed. 476.
"Pardon" applies only to the individual, releases him from the punishment fixed by law for his specific offense, but does not affect the criminality of the same or similar acts when performed by other persons or repeated by the same person. Distinguished from commutation. A pardon, to be effective, must be accepted, Burdick v. U. S., 236 U.S. 79, 35 S.Ct. 267, 268, 59 L.Ed. 476;
but a commutation is merely a cessation of the exercise of sovereign authority, and does not obliterate guilt nor restore civil rights, and need not be accepted by the convict to be operative. A commutation is simply a remission of a part of the punishment, a substitution of a less penalty for the one originally imposed; while a "pardon" avoids or terminates punishment for crime. U. S. v. Commissioner of Immigration at Port of New York, C.C.A.N.Y., 5 F.2d 162, 165.
Distinguished from parole. A "pardon" releases the offender from the entire punishment prescribed for the offense, and from all the disabilities consequent on his conviction, while by a "parole" a convict is merely released before the expiration of his term, to remain subject during the remainder thereof to supervision by the public authority, and to return to imprisonment on violation of the condition of the parole.
Types of Pardons
@ absolute or unconditional pardon
@ absolute pardon
One which frees the criminal without any condition whatever. That which reaches both the punishment prescribed for the offense and the guilt of the offender. It obliterates in legal contemplation the offense itself. It goes no further than to restore the accused to his civil rights and remit the penalty imposed for the particular offense of which he was convicted in so far as it remains unpaid. State v. Cullen, 14 Wash.2d 105, 127 P.2d 257, 259.
See also conditional pardon, unconditional pardon
@ conditional pardon
One to which a condition is annexed, performance of which is necessary to the validity of the pardon. A pardon which does not become operative until the grantee has performed some specific act, or where it becomes void when some specific event transpires. One granted on the condition that it shall only endure until the voluntary doing of some act by the person pardoned, or that it shall be revoked by a subsequent act on his part, as that he shall leave the state and never return.
@ full pardon
One freely and unconditionally absolving party from all legal consequences, direct and collateral, of crime and conviction. Warren v. State, 127 Tex.Cr.R. 71, 74 S.W.2d 1006, 1008.
@ general pardon
One granted to all the persons participating in a given criminal or treasonable offense (generally political), or to all offenders of a given class or against a certain statute or within certain limits of time. But "amnesty" is the more appropriate term for this. It may be express, as when a general declaration is made that all offenders of a certain class shall be pardoned, or implied, as in case of the repeal of a penal statute.
@ partial pardon
That which remits only portion of punishment or absolves from only portion of legal consequences of crime. Warren v. State, 127 Tex.Cr.R. 71, 74 S.W.2d 1006, 1008.
@ unconditional pardon
Pardon that frees a prisoner without any conditions attached. A full pardon
See also conditional pardon, absolute or unconditional pardon
@ pardon attorney
Official of Justice Department who considers applications for federal pardons and makes recommendations for the exercise of Presidential clemency

Black's law dictionary. . 1990.

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