How to Get a Pardon in Tennessee
In Tennessee, the governor has the power to grant pardons to any individual convicted of a crime. The governor has full discretion to grant or deny pardons to anyone he chooses, but typically he will consider factors such as the nature of the offense, how long ago the conviction was, whether the applicant has other convictions, and signs of rehabilitation since finishing the sentence.
Applications for a pardon must first be sent to the Parole Board for review before going to the governor’s office.
If you or someone you know is interested in seeking clemency, a Tennessee pardon lawyer from Raybin & Weissman, P.C. can assess your situation and offer advice on whether your case has a solid chance of receiving a pardon. If your chances are high, we can represent you in the application process. Our attorneys have successfully represented applicants in obtaining Tennessee pardons.
What a Tennessee Pardon Does
A pardon restores certain civil rights lost because of the conviction, such as the right to vote, the right to hold public office, and the right to serve on a jury. If the offense was “nonviolent,” a pardon can also result in the conviction being expunged from the person’s record and restoration of firearm rights. Under current state law, a pardon for a “violent” offense does not restore firearm rights or allow the conviction to be removed from the person’s record.
Eligibility for Pardons in Tennessee
To be eligible for a pardon in Tennessee, it must be at least five years from the end of your sentence, you must demonstrate “exemplary citizenship” since completion of the sentence, and show a “compelling reason” for a pardon. You must provide letters of support to demonstrate your exemplary citizenship and your compelling reason.
2020 Updates to Eligibility Requirements
In January of 2020, Gov. Bill Lee’s administration made a few small adjustments to Tennessee’s clemency process that could have a massive impact for years to come. The adjustments aimed to push criminal justice reforms are as follows:
- Pardon applications changed the phrasing from requiring “a specific and compelling need for a pardon” to requiring “a compelling reason for a pardon.“
- The rigid legal standard for commutation applications that offenders show “clear and convincing evidence” of rehabilitation was removed. One thing added to this application was that rehabilitation should be measured “relative to the nature of the offense(s) committed.”
- Exoneration applications completely removed the “clear and convincing evidence” standard.
The Pardon Application Process
You can apply for pardon through the Tennessee Board of Parole. The board sifts through the applications to determine eligibility. Eligible applicants are sent to the governor with recommendations for approval or denial. The Governor makes an official decision on whom to pardon and they don’t have to explain their decision.
Reach Out to a Nashville Pardon Attorney
If you aren’t sure whether your conviction is eligible for a pardon, our team at Raybin & Weissman, P.C. can assess your case in greater detail. We have in-depth knowledge of Tennessee’s pardon process and will apply this knowledge to your circumstances. To speak with a Nashville pardon lawyer from our team, call 615-256-6666 or fill out the contact form below to schedule a free consultation.