The governor has the authority to issue pardons to anyone convicted of a crime in the state, but achieving a pardon can be difficult as they are rarely offered. Over the course of his entire eight-year term, for example, former Governor Bill Haslam issued only 35 pardons in total, with 23 coming on his final day in office.
However, it is possible to acquire a pardon by presenting a convincing argument, and enlisting a seasoned attorney could dramatically improve the odds of a favorable outcome. If you believe you have a case for gubernatorial clemency, you should contact a Chattanooga pardon lawyer to discuss your legal options.
Current state law establishes a few non-negotiable requirements for seeking a pardon from the governor. To be eligible for a pardon, at least five years must have passed since the end of the petitioner’s sentence or the sentence of the person on whose behalf a petition has been filed. The petition must also include letters of support demonstrating both “exemplary citizenship” and a “compelling reason” for a pardon.
Notably, Governor Bill Lee changed these standards slightly in January of 2020, when his administration made it so that only a “compelling reason” was necessary for a pardon rather than “a specific and compelling reason.” Similarly, commutation petitions no longer require “clear and convincing evidence” of rehabilitation, and instead now measure rehabilitation “relative to the nature of the offense(s) committed.” These petitions also no longer require “clear and convincing evidence” to be valid.
A Chattanooga pardon attorney could go into further detail regarding the requirements of a strong and admissible petition during a private consultation.
Applying for a pardon requires filing an application with the Tennessee Board of Parole, which is responsible for deciding which petitions are eligible for presentation to the Governor. This organization also provides recommendations to the Governor about whether to accept or reject particular petitions. Assistance from an experienced pardon lawyer in Chattanooga can be especially crucial during this step, as seasoned legal counsel could provide valuable guidance as to the details the Board of Parole looks for in an application and what additional actions may be required.
If the Governor elects to pardon someone, that person would immediately regain any civil rights that their conviction deprived them of, including the rights to vote, serve on a jury, and hold public office. In addition, pardons for non-violent offenses allow for the restoration of the convicted party’s right to own firearms, and non-violent offenders could potentially be granted the complete expungement of the conviction from their criminal record.
Simply determining whether a conviction is eligible for a pardon can be challenging, but successfully obtaining a pardon without seasoned legal representation is almost impossible. Fortunately, a qualified Chattanooga pardon lawyer with in-depth expertise about this process could help you pursue this life-changing decision.
The first step to seeking clemency from the Governor is getting in touch with a qualified legal professional. Call today to schedule your first consultation.