Clemency in Texas
What is Clemency?
Clemency is the ability for an offender to get their sentence reduced, put on hold or eliminated by the governor upon recommendation of the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Various forms of executive clemency in Texas, including full and conditional pardons, pardons based on actual innocence, temporary medical reprieves and commutations of the sentence.
In Texas, the governor can grant a full pardon, which restores many of the rights of the offender that were lost due to the conviction. These may include the right to vote or possess a firearm. Essentially, a full pardon clears the name of the individual and their status is restored to pre-conviction. Although most rights will be restored, it is important to note that certain rights such as the right to get some professional licenses or the right to be a peace officer in Texas will be lost. A full pardon is typically not given to an offender currently in prison, but can be done in rare circumstances. If a full pardon is issued, the individual is eligible to have any records relating to the conviction expunged. Although the expunction is not automatic, the individual may petition the court in which the conviction was received to have it removed from their record.
A conditional pardon is where a pardon is issued however the offender still remains subject o conditions of release. The governor may issue a conditional pardon however unlike a full pardon, rights that were lost as a result of the conviction are not restored. In addition, the governor may revoke the pardon if the conditions of release are not complied with.
The governor may issue a pardon based on actual innocence, which reverses the conviction and clears the individual’s name for the commission of the crime. For a pardon based on innocence, the Parole Board requires evidence of actual innocence or the finding of fact that indicates innocence from the district judge in a state habeas action.
Commutation of Sentence
A commutation of sentence may be given and results in a reduction of the sentence to a lesser amount of time. Commutations of a sentence will be granted upon the recommendation of a majority of trial officials in the county where the conviction was received. The recommendation must state that the penalty appears to be excessive and must state a new term that is based on information that was not considered or available at the time of trial or plea.
A reprieve is a temporary delay of punishment typically given to offenders who are terminally ill or require medical treatment that is not available within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Similar to other forms of clemency, reprieves are given by the governor. The reprieve must be based on the written recommendation of the Board. Although they are usually given for medical reasons, they may be also given for family emergencies in order to attend a funeral or visit a critically ill family member.
Should I Hire an Attorney for my Clemency Application?
In Texas, clemency requests may be made through the Office of the General Counsel for the Board of Pardons and Paroles. A complete and detailed application must be submitted for board consideration. It is recommended to have an experienced parole attorney review and submit the application so that it meets the criteria specified in the board rules and that all required documents are submitted.
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- Discuss the facts of your case;
- Discuss the legal issues involved, including the direct and collateral consequences of the allegation; and
- Discuss the defenses that apply to your plan and in general terms discuss our approach to your case.
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