Learn How Pardons Work in the State of Florida from Jeffrey Feiler, Experienced Miami Criminal Lawyer

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Posted on October 21, 2016 by Jeffrey Feiler

Picture of a Man Absolved From All His Punishment Thanks To a Pardon Achieved By a Miami Criminal LawyerI recently appeared in Tallahassee in the State Capital Building before the "Cabinet" consisting of Florida Governor Rick Scott, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, and Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, who comprise the "Clemency Board" at a proceeding to obtain a Full Pardon for a client with a forty-year old conviction for Aggravated Assault. Restoration of his Civil Rights had already been granted in 2006, and now, we were endeavoring to obtain a Full Pardon for my client. The Governor is the Chief "Executive" of Florida (just as the President is the Chief Executive of the nation). Hence the term "Executive Clemency". As a Miami criminal lawyer, I often help convicted criminals prepare for proceedings like this and seek to alleviate their sentences, post-conviction.

My client was permitted a total of ten (10) minutes to address the Clemency Board with a maximum of five (5) minutes for himself and any one witness. As his attorney, I was likewise permitted to speak on his behalf. The proceeding is fairly informal in that the applicant and his witnesses just introduce themselves and are then able to speak their minds. If any Board member has any questions, he or she is permitted to ask at any time. Sometimes, they do and other times, no questions are asked. In our case, no questions were asked. My client had submitted a written application explaining why he felt a Full Pardon should be granted. Also, a committee had conducted an investigation of my client and made their recommendation, which was unfortunately an "unfavorable" recommendation. Without detailing the reasons, my client had criminal problems subsequent to his original conviction. Although there were no additional convictions, the circumstances of those arrests factored prominently into the Committee making the negative recommendation. This made for an uphill battle in the realm of attaining a complete pardon. It would have taken a very persuasive effort to overcome the recommendation. The Governor applauded my client's efforts regarding his family, his employment, and his community service, however, based upon his past history, the Governor was not merciful to him that day.

What follows are an explanation of the various forms of Clemency including Pardons and Restorations of Civil Rights, as well as the conditions necessary to apply for and to be eligible for these forms of relief. For more information about making your application, call (305) 697-7209 to contact the Jeffrey Feiler Law Firm.
Clemency including Pardons and Restorations of Civil Rights

Executive Clemency is a power vested in the Governor by the Florida Constitution of 1968. Article IV, Section 8(a) of the Constitution provides:

Except in cases of treason and in cases where impeachment results in conviction, the Governor may, by executive order filed with the custodian of state records, suspend collection of fines and forfeitures, grant reprieves not exceeding sixty days and, with the approval of two members of the cabinet, grant full or conditional pardons, restore civil rights, commute punishment, and remit fines and forfeitures for offenses.

The Governor and members of the Cabinet collectively are the Clemency Board. Clemency is an act of mercy that absolves the individual upon whom it is bestowed from all or any part of the punishment that the law imposes.

The Governor has the unfettered discretion to deny clemency at any time, for any reason. The Governor, with the approval of at least two members of the Clemency Board, has the unfettered discretion to grant, at any time, for any reason, the following forms of clemency:

A Full Pardon unconditionally releases a person from punishment and forgives guilt for any Florida convictions. It restores to an applicant all of the rights of citizenship possessed by the person before his or her conviction, including the right to own, possess, or use firearms.

A Pardon without Firearm Authority releases a person from punishment and forgives guilt. It entitles an applicant to all of the rights of citizenship enjoyed by the person before his or her conviction, except the specific authority to own, possess, or use firearms.

A Pardon for a Misdemeanor Conviction releases a person from punishment and forgives their Guilt.

A Commutation of Sentence may adjust an applicant's penalty to one less severe but does not restore any civil rights, and it does not restore the authority to own, possess, or use firearms. (See also Rule 15 on commutation of death sentences.)

A Remission of Fines or Forfeitures suspends, reduces, or removes fines or forfeitures.

Picture Of An Incarcerated Man in Miami Applying for PardonThe Specific Authority to Own, Possess, or Use Firearms restores to an applicant the right to own, possess, or use firearms, which were lost as a result of a felony conviction. Due to federal firearms laws, the Clemency Board will not consider requests for firearm authority from individuals convicted in federal or out-of-state courts. In order to comply with the federal laws, a Presidential Pardon or a Relief of Disability from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms must be issued in cases involving federal court convictions. A pardon or restoration of civil rights with no restrictions on firearms must be issued by the state where the conviction occurred.

The Restoration of Civil Rights restores to an applicant all of the rights of citizenship in the State of Florida enjoyed before the felony conviction, except the specific authority to own, possess, or use firearms. Such restoration shall not relieve an applicant from the registration and notification requirements or any other obligations and restrictions imposed by law upon sexual predators or sexual offenders.

The Restoration of Alien Status Under Florida Law restores to an applicant who is not a citizen of the United States such rights enjoyed by him or her, under the authority of the State of Florida, which were lost as a result of a conviction of any crime that is a felony or would be a felony under Florida law, except the specific authority to own, possess, or use firearms. However, restoration of these rights shall not affect the immigration status of the applicant (i.e., a certificate evidencing Restoration of Alien Status under Florida Law shall not be a ground for relief from removal proceedings initiated by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service).

All of the preceding forms of clemency may be granted subject to various conditions. If the conditions of clemency are violated or breached, such clemency may be revoked by the Clemency Board, returning the applicant to his or her status prior to receiving the conditional clemency.

A person may not apply for a pardon unless he or she has completed all sentences imposed and all conditions of supervision have expired or been completed, including but not limited to, parole, probation, community control, control release and conditional release, for a period of no less than 10 years. The applicant may not have outstanding detainers, or any pecuniary penalties or liabilities which total more than $1,000 and result from any criminal conviction or traffic infraction. In addition, the applicant may not have any outstanding victim restitution, including, but not limited to, restitution pursuant to a court order or civil judgment, or obligations pursuant to Chapter 960, Florida Statutes.

Persons who had adjudication of guilt withheld and were not convicted, may apply for a pardon.

A person may not apply for a remission of fines and forfeitures unless he or she has completed all sentences imposed and all conditions of supervision have expired or been completed, including, but not limited to, parole, probation, community control, control release, and conditional release.

A person may not apply for the specific authority to own, possess, or use firearms unless he or she has completed all sentences imposed and all conditions of supervision have expired or been completed, including but not limited to, parole, probation, community control, control release, and conditional release, for a period of no less than eight (8) years. The applicant may not have outstanding detainers, or any pecuniary penalties or liabilities which total more than $1,000 and result from any criminal conviction or traffic infraction. In addition, the applicant may not have any outstanding victim restitution, including, but not limited to, restitution pursuant to a court order or civil judgment, or obligations pursuant to Chapter 960, Florida Statutes.

Persons convicted in a federal, military, or out-of-state court are not eligible to apply.

A person may not apply for the restoration of his or her civil rights unless he or she has completed all sentences imposed and all conditions of supervision have expired or been completed, including, but not limited to, parole, probation, community control, control release, and conditional release'. In addition, the applicant may not have any outstanding victim restitution, including, but not limited to, restitution pursuant to a court order or civil judgment, or obligations pursuant to Chapter 960, Florida Statutes.

If the person was convicted in a court other than a court of the State of Florida, he or she must be a legal resident of the State of Florida at the time the application is filed, considered, and acted upon. If the person is applying for Restoration of Alien Status under Florida Law, he or she must be domiciled in the State of Florida at the time the application is filed, considered, and acted upon.

For more information and legal representation about Clemency, Pardons and/or Restoration of Civil Rights, contact the Jeffrey Feiler Law Firm at (305) 697-7209.




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