President Trump made headlines recently when he issued a pardon for former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was found guilty of criminal contempt. Arpaio is the exception, not the rule, when it comes to pardons. Most people who are convicted of crimes will have to seek other options since receiving clemency is extremely rare.
What is Clemency?
Clemency allows the executive branch of government to extend mercy to people convicted through the judicial system. Only governors have the power to grant clemency for state crimes, and only the President has the power to grant clemency for federal crimes. There are three types of clemencies, which include:
- Reprieves – Reprieves suspend the execution of a sentence so that the individual can have time to find a way to reduce their sentence.
- Commuting a sentence – Commuting a sentence involves reducing the penalty or jail term the individual is sentenced to.
- Pardons – Pardons completely forgive the individual for the crime and remove any further punishment.
Governor Doug Ducey has not issued any pardons during his tenure in office as of September 2017. Truly exceptional cases might make it to his desk, but so far he hasn't signed off.
What are Your Options?
There are other legal options within the judicial branch that you can pursue in order to fight your conviction or your sentence. These options include:
- Reduce the sentence – If you are eligible for probation or parole as an alternative to imprisonment or fines, your attorney can help you reduce the sentence.
- Move for a new trial – You might be able to request a retrial.
- Appeal – You might benefit from appealing the decision, which means your case will be taken to a higher court in the hopes that they change the verdict of the lower court.
- Judicial set-aside or expungement – A criminal record can follow you for the rest of your life. You may be eligible to have your records expunged or sealed to minimize the effect of your past on your future.
A professional attorney will be able to provide legal guidance in regards to the course you should take. Once you decide on a course of action in consultation with your legal team, your attorney does the legwork: filing briefs, submitting requests, working within court timelines, and so on. The best outcome is to avoid a conviction altogether, but if you are convicted of a crime in Arizona, you might still have options. To speak with an attorney in Phoenix today, contact Garcia Law.