Clemency Petitions and Pardons 2017-07-30T17:14:21+00:00

Clemency Petitions and Pardons

The power of the President and the Governor of Illinois to grant clemency or a pardon traces its roots back to the English common law. In England, because the power of the courts derived from the king or queen, the monarch always had the power to overturn the judgments of the courts. Nowadays, the power to grant clemency or a pardon is an extraordinary remedy that allows the President or governor to grant a pardon, commutation of a sentence, a reprieve from judgment, or an order allowing the expungement of the person’s criminal record.

When Can a Clemency Petition Be Filed?

Unlike a petition for expungement that requires a person to wait a period of time prior to filing, a clemency petition does not have a similar waiting period. However, even though a clemency petition can be filed immediately after a conviction, the likelihood of success decreases because a major factor in granting a clemency or a pardon is the length of time between the filing and the crime.

What are the Different Types of Executive Clemency?

1)    Pardon: a pardon is the official forgiveness for the commission of a crime. A pardon is the only means to clear a criminal record that cannot be expunged or sealed.

2)    Commutation of sentence: the process of commuting a sentence is the official means to change an imposed sentence. By commutating a sentence the governor can reduce a prison sentence or the governor can grant an outright release from custody.

3)    Reprieve: a reprieve is no longer applicable in Illinois since the death penalty in Illinois has been eliminated. However, when capital sentences were permitted a reprieve postponed a schedule execution.

4)    Expungement: an expungement authorization is an official order from the governor ordering a circuit court enter an expungement order. The expungement can also contain language that allows someone to obtain a FOID card.

What is the Clemency Process?

The clemency petition is filed with the Prisoner Review Board seeking either a public or nonpublic hearing. After the hearing, the Prisoner Review Board forwards its confidential recommendation to the governor. The governor then decides whether to grant the clemency. The governor’s decision is final and non-appealable. Finally, the clemency process does not impose a time requirement on the governor’s decision to grant or deny a petition for clemency.

The clemency petition must be filed 75 days of the next scheduled docket calendar. The Prisoner Review Board hears clemency petitions four times a year, twice in Springfield and twice in Chicago. The Prisoner Review Board hears clemency petitions in Springfield in January and July and it hears clemency petitions in Chicago in April and October.


The process of executive clemency is the only means to clear a criminal record when the record cannot be expunged or sealed. A successful petition for clemency can result in clearing a past felony or conviction, being able to obtain a FOID card and owning a gun, or even being released from custody.

If you trying to clear an old criminal record that has been preventing you from obtaining employment, from getting a FOID card or from living the life that you want, please contact Jaleel Law P.C. We have the knowledge and experience to help you start a new life with a clear criminal record. Contact us to discuss how we can help you file a clemency petition or seek a pardon. We have helped individuals throughout Illinois who are just like you.