The Tennessee governor has the constitutional power to give parole to eligible offenders. All clemency applications must go through the Tennessee Board of Parole for review before they get to the governor’s office, where the governor may deny or grant pardons based on the nature of your criminal offense, sentence length, and signs of rehabilitation after finishing the sentence. 

If you are interested in seeking clemency, here are essential details to get you started.

What Are Commutations and Pardons?

Commutations mean reducing a sentence or punishment. For instance, a person serving a twenty year jail sentence may receive a ten year commutation. You can also request a reduction in court order fines or a probationary period.

Note that a commutation doesn’t declare you innocent. It’s just a substitution of one form of punishment with another. Often, you will need to serve a portion of your sentence.

Most people receive sentence commutations due to good behavior, old age, or illnesses. With the help of a good defense attorney, you can receive a commutation if you receive an unreasonably harsh sentence compared to other similar cases.

On the other hand, pardon means complete forgiveness of the offender’s crimes. Once pardoned, you regain the rights lost due to convictions, like the right to vote and hold public office. The main difference between the two is that while commutation reduces the severity of the punishment, pardons relieve you of all the punishments resulting from the convictions.

To earn commutations, you must show proof of good behavior. There is no substantive procedure for how the governor should grant pardons, so they can do it for various reasons. Again, commutations don’t restore your civil rights, which makes a pardon the better alternative.

How to Get a Pardon in Tennessee

To request a pardon, start by submitting or emailing a formal petition to the Tennessee Board of Parole. You must fill out the pardon application form, provide a letter detailing compelling reasons for a pardon, and provide proof of your exemplary citizenship. You can prove good citizenship by getting testimonials from others.

Get support letters from administrative agencies and appropriate officials to illustrate your value to society. The Tennessee Board of Parole will review the applications to determine eligibility. They then send recommendations for the eligible applicants to the governor for a final decision.

When filing a pardon petition, you must show acceptance of responsibility for the crime. Explain how you have changed since the conviction and how a pardon can help improve your life. Report all the convictions and any other charges that didn’t result in a conviction. Failure to report all charges may result in the falsification of the petition. Ensure that you complete the pardon request on time before the governor leaves the office due to reelections or other reasons.

Instructions for Commutations

To apply for commutations, you must also fill out an application form and submit it to the Tennessee Board of Parole. You need supporting documents to demonstrate that you have been rehabilitated to be a law-abiding citizen who will positively contribute to society once released. After a thorough review, the board will recommend and send a list of individuals with characteristics that qualify them for reduced criminal sentences.

During reviews, the board may seek more information about the petitioners from other agencies. This is why it’s essential to disclose any arrests or past convictions. Failure to accurately fill out the form may lead to petition denial.

The governor will prioritize petitioners suffering from life-threatening illnesses or those with a severely ill spouse, child, or parent. State reasons why reducing a part of your sentence will benefit you. The board will not approve a request for people actively challenging their convictions through appeals. So wait until you conclude all judicial challenges and start serving your sentence before applying for commutations.

Work with the Legal Professionals

Seeking clemency may seem like a challenging process, but it’s worthwhile. If you are patient and committed, you will get some relief from some or all of the legal consequences of a criminal conviction. Assistance from an experienced lawyer is crucial, especially in the pardon application process.

If you have more questions or need legal advice about commutations and pardon applications, feel free to consult The Cassell Firm for legal advice. We are dedicated to fighting for fair treatment for all our clients and protecting their rights. 

Contact us today to schedule a consultation with our team. We’ll be glad to assist.