Clemency is when the state forgives or reduces a criminal conviction. Clemency is an executive power, meaning it can only be exercised by the governor. Section 77 of the Kentucky Constitution states that the governor shall have the power to commute sentences and grant pardons. 

In order to obtain clemency, you need to apply to the governor’s office. The office will perform an extensive review of your background and conviction. They will then determine if the circumstances warrant some form of clemency. If you need help applying for clemency, contact an attorney. 

Is Pardon the Same Thing as Clemency in Lexington?

Pardon is not the same thing as clemency in Lexington, Kentucky. Clemency refers to any act of mercy by the governor, whether it is a commutation, reprieve, or full pardon. 

A pardon is when a conviction is completely forgiven, as if it never happened. Pardons lead to an immediate release from custody.

A commutation is when a sentence is reduced. For example, a death penalty could be commuted to a life sentence. It could also mean you are released from prison despite having years left on your sentence. The state will often grant commutations when there was an abnormally harsh sentence or when public opinion about the severity of a crime has changed. It could also be granted as an act of mercy when an inmate is elderly and in declining health.

A reprieve delays the start of a sentence. For instance, if someone is in need of medical treatment before serving a sentence, they could be eligible for a reprieve. A reprieve could also be granted pending an appeal to allow the defendant to remain free until a final decision in the case.

How Do You Get Clemency in Lexington?

To get any form of clemency in Lexington, you will need to carefully follow the application process. You can apply for clemency without a lawyer, but a lawyer is highly recommended. Otherwise, you may risk leaving out important information that could help you.

The application form for clemency can be found here. Key pieces of your application for clemency include:

  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A letter from the applicant about why they deserve clemency
  • Criminal record
  • Employment history

The governor’s office will make a decision based on the application package and a background investigation. You will be contacted if you are being granted clemency, but you won’t hear anything in case of a rejection.

Is it Too Late to Get Clemency if I Already Served a Sentence?

Even if you have already served your full sentence in Kentucky, there are still many benefits of applying for clemency. 

A pardon can eliminate a conviction from your record and restore your civil rights, including your:

  • Right to vote
  • Right to own a firearm
  • Ability to work for the government

You can also choose to apply for a “Restoration of Civil Rights.” This won’t impact the conviction like a pardon would, but it can be extremely beneficial as you reclaim your rights.

If you need help applying for clemency or a restoration of civil rights in Lexington, Kentucky, contact a criminal defense lawyer. They can help you explore the best options for obtaining relief from your conviction. They can handle communications with the state on your behalf. They can also help you complete the proper applications to give you the best chances of securing relief.