A criminal conviction in Florida can result in harsh penalties that go beyond fines and incarceration. A convict can lose the right to vote, hold public office, serve on a jury, and own or possess a gun. A poor choice that someone made when they were young could stick with them for life.
You may be eligible for a pardon, however, depending on the severity of your crime, as well as several other factors. A pardon (also called clemency) relieves the consequences stemming from a criminal conviction. That means many of your civil rights would be restored if you're granted clemency.
In Florida, the clemency board grants pardons and/or restores civil rights lost due to criminal convictions. The clemency board is made up of the governor and three cabinet members. The governor has the power to grant or deny pardons.
Types of pardons
There are several types of pardons in Florida. The severity of your crime and other factors may influence which type of pardon you're granted. These include:
- Full Pardon — a person is granted complete forgiveness for a criminal conviction and all rights (including right to own or possess a firearm) are restored.
- Pardon Without Firearm Authority — guilt for a criminal conviction is forgiven and all civil rights are restored, except for the right to own or possess a gun.
- Pardon for Misdemeanor — a person is relieved of guilt and legal consequences for a misdemeanor conviction.
- Commutation of Sentence — a person's sentence legal consequences may be reduced, but no civil rights are restored.
- Remission of Fines and Forfeitures — fines and forfeitures stemming from a criminal conviction are suspended, reduced, or removed.
- Specific Authority to Own, Possess, or Use Firearms — a person with a federal or out-of-state conviction may be granted the right to own or possess a gun.
- Restoration of Civil Rights in Florida — all rights of citizenship in the state of Florida (except for the right to own or possess a firearm) are restored. This type of clemency doesn't apply to those convicted of sex crimes.
- Restoration of Alien Status under Florida Law — restores all rights to non-U.S. citizens (except for the right to own or possess a gun), but doesn't affect immigration status.
Do I qualify for a pardon?
If you were charged with a serious crime, you must wait seven years after completing your sentence to apply for a pardon. Otherwise, you must wait five years after completing your sentence.
Under rules 9 and 10 of the Florida's clemency rules, you may be eligible for a pardon only if you:
- Completed your jail or prison sentence
- Paid all fines and court costs
- Paid restitution to victims
- Have completed probation, parole, or community service
- Have no new charges pending
Under rule 9D, you may be eligible for restoration of civil rights if your conviction was federal or out of state. You can't apply for a pardon, however.
If you have any questions regarding pardons or need legal help, the Clay County attorneys at Aguilar & Sieron, P.A. can help. Contact us online or call us at 904-264-6000.