forgiveness of a crime and the cancellation of the relevant penalty

A pardon is a decision that absolves a convicted person of a criminal conviction. A pardon may be full or partial:[1]

  • A full pardon removes all of the consequences of conviction.
  • A partial pardon does not fully absolve a person of the conviction. For example, a partial pardon may not set aside a finding of guilt, or may not fully restore the rights of the person who received the pardon.

Pardons are sometimes given to people who are wrongly convicted. In that case, the person is cleared of that conviction, as if never convicted.[2]

The practice varies greatly between countries. In the United States a pardon for a federal conviction may be granted by the President,[3] while pardons for state convictions may be granted by state governors.[3][4]


  1. Larson, Aaron (23 May 2017). "How to Apply for a Pardon or Commutation of Sentence". ExpertLaw. Archived from the original on 21 August 2019. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  2. Williston, Samuel (May 1915). "Does a Pardon Blot out Guilt?". Harvard Law Review. 28 (7): 647–663. doi:10.2307/1326170. JSTOR 1326170. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Executive Clemency". Office of the Pardon Attorney. U.S. Department of Justice. Archived from the original on 21 February 2018. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  4. "Characteristics of Pardon Authorities". Restoration of Rights Project. March 2016. Retrieved 27 July 2017.