Even when a crime has been committed and a person has been convicted, there are opportunities for that person to get a discharge or reprieve depending on the circumstances. There are cases in which there is a public interest in overturning the verdict, conviction, and sentence as if they never happened at all. This is a separate procedure from a reprieve. It means that the criminal record is essentially expunged and the person continues on as if he or she never committed the crime or went through the court process. This person may even be entitled to compensation for wrongful convictions.
The process we are talking about is when a crime has been proven and the defendant has been sentenced, but he or she then gets a reprieve. This can be at the discretion of the governor of Chicago or even the President of the United States. A board may be convened to consider the institution of pardons and reprieves. A case in point is when President Obama authorized reprieves for a number of convicts who had been given long sentences for relatively minor drug-related offenses on the basis of the three strikes rule.
Implications of the Reprieve of Discharge
The person may regain his or her civil and firearm rights under the constitution after the discharge. For example, a reprieved individual may be allowed to legally vote, a right that will have been lost after a felony conviction. Chicago restores the right to vote at the end of the sentence in any case. The disenfranchisement provision extends to those who may have committed a misdemeanor but are still sentenced to a term of imprisonment. The idea is to prevent people who are in prison having a right to decide who governs the state or nation.
The same rules apply to the right to hold an office that is created by the Chicago state constitution including being a judge, governor, chief education officer, member of the legislative assembly, and a member of the state board of education. However, any conviction that involves election fraud will automatically bar the defendant even after they have served their sentence. For other elective offices, the bar is permanent. A pardon may be used to restore those rights.
The law in Chicago does not preclude convicted felons from jury service and it is not a cause for challenging membership of a jury. However, the character requirements may effectively render it unlikely that the person will serve on a jury. The right to bear arms may be restored by the police department or a circuit judge. Pardons often include special provisions with reference to the right to bear arms. The exclusion from being an administrator of an estate or an executor of a will is lost upon conviction and will remain so despite time-passed or rehabilitation.
The Powers to Pardon, Reprieve, and Discharge
The current governor retains the power to pardon as recommended by the Prisoner Review Board. The requests must therefore be sent to the board. The legislature does not limit the governor’s power to pardon. The board has 15 members who are appointed by the state governor. Their terms of office are one year each with a maximum of six. The senate must confirm those members. No political party can have more than eight members on a single board.
The governor appoints the chair whose sole occupation and employment must be that role for the term. The hearings can be undertaken by at least one member and a panel of any three can make a decision on requests for pardons. All felons and misdemeanants are eligible, save for those convicted under federal law or the laws of another state.
The clemency decision will remove all the disabilities and penalties of the conviction and hence restores all their civil rights. Expungement is a separate process that is undertaken by the judiciary as part of the terms of the pardon. FOID cards can only be obtained if firearms restorations are specifically mentioned in the pardon. For expert help with your criminal case, contact David Freidberg Attorney at Law at 312-567-7100.
(image courtesy of Jack Young)