You can find answers to the most commonly asked questions about applying for executive clemency in the following FAQ. Scroll down for links to additional information. If you would like to talk to Samuel Morison directly about your case, please contact our office.
Can I appeal directly to the President?
There is no legal or ethical constraint against attempting to send a clemency request directly to the President. However, it is not as easy as putting a petition in the mail. Rather, you must engage the services of someone who can reliably ensure that the petition is accepted by the White House for review, and few people have the resources or contacts to do that successfully. Submitting your application through the Office of the Pardon Attorney is the best option in the majority of cases. If you believe you have the means to approach the White House directly, please contact our office.
Can I apply for clemency without an attorney?
You are not required to retain a lawyer to file a petition. But only an attorney familiar with the clemency advisory process can help you write a more effective petition and file the paperwork on your behalf with OPA. Mr. Morison is one of the few attorneys in private practice who has this sort of experience.
Where can I find the
You can download instructions and the appropriate application form directly from the OPA website:
⦁ Commutation (Reduction) of Sentence
⦁ Pardon After Completion of Sentence
What documentation do I need for a pardon application?
In addition to comprehensive biographical and financial information, a detailed account of your offense, and a thoughtful statement of your reasons for seeking pardon, you need records of any other criminal or civil proceedings in your past. You also need character references from at least three people not related to you. Finally, copies of court documents related to your case, particularly your Presentence Report (PSR), are helpful.
Where can I get a copy of my Presentence Report?
The Presentence Report was prepared by the Probation Office after you were convicted to assist the District Court at your sentencing. If you do not have a copy, you should contact the Probation Office that supervised you to request one. Copies of your judgment order, indictment, plea agreement, and sentencing memoranda may also be helpful.
What are my chances of getting a pardon or commutation?
No one can predict the outcome of your petition or guarantee that you will receive a pardon or commutation from the President. What Mr. Morison can do, however, is guide you through the process of making your most persuasive case for clemency.
How much does it cost to use
The final cost of retaining an attorney to help with a clemency application depends on the complexity of your case. Typically, we accept an initial retainer, deposit it in a trust fund, and bill against it. For more information, please contact our office directly.
How long does it take?
The OPA's evaluation of a case is not quick. It can take several years for a petition to make its way through the advisory process. This means that you cannot know for sure who will be in office when the OPA’s recommendation on your petition reaches the White House.
Will a federal pardon restore my gun rights?
If you lost your Second Amendment rights because of a federal felony conviction, then a pardon will restore them. If you have additional state convictions on your record, or some other basis for a firearms disability, your situation may be more complex. For more information, please contact our office directly.
Will a federal pardon prevent me from being deported?
If your federal felony conviction is the only basis for your deportation, then a presidential pardon prevents the government from relying on the pardoned offense as a ground for removal. However, the law governing a person’s immigration status is notoriously complicated. To discuss the details of your situation, please contact our office directly.
If I was unjustly convicted, can I apply for a pardon?
A pardon is not the same as an appeal. Typically, it does not vindicate or exonerate you, nor is it usually the appropriate forum in which to relitigate the underlying conviction. Instead, in most cases, pardon is granted as a sign of forgiveness and in recognition of the applicant’s efforts toward rehabilitation. Thus, your best course of action is to accept full and complete responsibility for the offense for which you were convicted.
What if I also have a state conviction?
The President can grant clemency only for federal offenses. Clemency procedures differ from state to state, but typically you apply to the governor or a state clemency board if you want a pardon or commutation for a state offense. If you have been convicted of a state offense, please contact our office to determine your options.
What can I do if my petition is denied?
There is no formal appeal process if your petition is denied. If you have new information or believe you can make a stronger case, you can submit a new application after a waiting period—one year for a commutation petition and two years for a pardon petition.
How do I get a copy of my criminal record?
The FBI keeps a record of all arrests and convictions, including state and federal offenses. You can request a copy of your record from the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) website. Follow the instructions on the Identity History Summary Checks page.
Federal Clemency Application Forms
Commutation (Reduction) of Sentence
Pardon After Completion of Sentence
Certificate of Pardon for Vietnam-era elective Service Act Violations
Federal Clemency Regulations
Rules Governing Petitions for Executive Clemency
Standards for Consideration of Clemency Petitions
Guidance on Civil Disabilities
Federal Statutes Imposing Collateral Consequences Upon Conviction (Office of the Pardon Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, Oct. 2000)
ABA Standards for Criminal Justice: Collateral Sanctions and Discretionary Disqualification of Convicted Persons (3d ed. 2004)
Relief from the Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Conviction: A State-by-State Guide, Margaret C. Love (W.S. Hein, 2006)
ABA Commission on Effective Criminal Sanctions and the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, Internal Exile: Collateral Consequences of Conviction in Federal Laws and Regulations (2009)
Sentencing Law and Policy
Presidential Pardons (ProPublica)