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Juror who prompted calls for new Ghislaine Maxwell trial turns to lawyer who defended Anna Sorokin.
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Last Updated on: 20th October 2023, 01:56 pm
Getting clemency or a pardon for a federal crime is a long and complicated process. As an attorney whose handled these types of cases, I get a lot of questions from clients about how it works and what their chances are. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most common FAQs I get on federal clemency petitions:
Clemency is when the President or Governor forgives someone for a crime they committed. It wipes the conviction from their record. The most common types of clemency are:
The President can only grant clemency for federal crimes. The Governor can grant clemency for state crimes. My experience is with federal clemency petitions.
Anyone convicted of a federal crime can apply for clemency. But for it to have a decent chance, you usually need to meet a few criteria:
Even if you meet the criteria, approval is rare. Out of thousands of petitions, only a handful get approved each year. The bar is very high.
There’s no one “right” time to apply. But in my experience, your chances improve if you wait until:
Applying too early when too much of your sentence remains rarely succeeds. The administration wants to see you served a significant chunk already.
Here are the typical steps in a federal clemency case:
The process takes around 2 years from start to Presidential decision. It’s long because the Pardon Attorney gets over 1,000 petitions a year to review.
A strong petition has:
It needs to paint a picture of you as someone deserving of mercy. Focus on the positive steps you’ve taken since the crime.
Having a lawyer helps – but it’s not required. The Pardon Attorney will review pro se petitions from applicants representing themselves. But having an experienced attorney prepare your petition improves the odds a great deal.
A lawyer knows how to strategically present your case, gather evidence and letters, and navigate the process. We’ve handled these cases before and know what arguments work.
The most common reasons petitions get rejected:
Any disciplinary citations on your record while incarcerated seriously hurt your chances. Taking full responsibility is also critical.
It’s hard to predict. But to give you an idea – out of over 1,000 petitions per year, only around 50-100 get approved. So it’s around a 5-10% success rate overall. Those aren’t great odds.
But it varies case by case. Factors like the severity of the crime, your rehabilitation efforts, and support from the judge/prosecutor impact the odds. I can give you a better estimate after reviewing your specifics.
My firm charges a flat fee around $15,000 to prepare and file a federal clemency petition. This includes my time reviewing your case, drafting the petition, gathering letters of support, communicating with the Pardon Attorney, and walking you through the process.
I also offer payment plans, so you don’t have to pay the entire amount upfront. My goal is to make experienced representation affordable.
A few things that can really help:
Anything showing you’ve turned your life around and become a role model prisoner boosts your odds. It shows the maturity necessary for clemency.
Unfortunately there is no formal appeal process for a denied clemency petition. The President’s decision is final. Your only recourse is to apply again later on, after some time has passed. You can submit a improved petition making a better case for yourself.
But most applicants only get one bite at the apple. So it’s important to put your best foot forward the first time.
Getting support from the judge or prosecutor is extremely helpful. A letter from the judge or prosecutor backing clemency can make all the difference.
Don’t be afraid to write to them asking for their support. Explain how you’ve changed and why you deserve clemency. If they see true remorse and rehabilitation, they may agree to write a letter on your behalf.
But their support is not guaranteed. Some judges/prosecutors refuse clemency requests out of principle. So don’t get your hopes up too much – focus on putting together the strongest petition possible.
A few other things that boost your odds:
Anything that puts the spotlight on your case and makes it stand out from the hundreds of other petitions can help.
My advice would be to start gathering documents on your case, employment history, education, etc. so your attorney has everything they need.
Also start lining up people willing to write letters of support. Get their contact info, relationship to you, etc. so your attorney can reach out when it’s time.
And of course, focus on maintaining a clean record and doing anything you can to better yourself while incarcerated. The clemency petition is just one part of the process – you need to show you’ve turned your life around.
If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m happy to help explain the clemency process and assess your chances. Consulting with me puts you under no obligation to hire me for your petition. My goal is to provide you the information you need to make an informed decision either way.
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