pardon | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction

In the criminal justice context, a pardon is an act of executive clemency that forgives a convicted individual for a crime they have committed and restores their civil rights.

A pardon is typically granted by the head of state, such as a president or governor, and can be granted either before or after a conviction.

A pardon essentially wipes the slate clean for the individual who receives it, erasing the legal consequences of their criminal conviction. This can include the removal of any fines or restitution orders, the restoration of voting rights, and the ability to apply for certain jobs or licenses.

Pardons are often granted for humanitarian or political reasons, such as in cases where there is evidence of wrongful conviction, or where an individual’s sentence is deemed overly harsh. Pardons can also be granted as a way to promote national reconciliation or to reduce the impact of the criminal justice system on marginalized communities.

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Last Modified: 03/10/2023


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