Saturday, June 9, 2012

Expungement Versus Pardoning

Through two methods, known as pardoning and expungement, the law's reaction to a person's crimes may be changed. Although the concepts may seem similar to those unfamiliar with the law, pardons and expungement work in significantly different ways. While both of these legal concepts modify a person's criminal history, they differ significantly in how those changes work.

Perhaps the largest and most obvious difference between a pardon and an expungement is how these orders work. A pardon does not remove the crime in question from a person's record. Instead, it can protect them from legal prosecution, drop any penalties for a crime, or modify the sentence. For example, some states include a death penalty, but may have governors that provide pardons to commute these sentences to life imprisonment.

An expungement, on the other hand, removes the record of a crime. All punishments must be served according to the law, and, for most cases, there cannot be pending legal procedures for the convicted individual. In some states, an expungement is used to clear the charge or allegation from a person's record, while the actual verdict of the crime must be vacated, which is a similar process. In many jurisdictions, expungement makes it legal for these convicted individuals to then state that they were not convicted of the crime in question if a prospective employer asks.

To be granted either of these orders, there are different requirements. In particular, pardons are only given by the heads of the state and federal executive branches. This means that governors and the president may pardon people according to their own judgment. Expungement, on the other hand, is a court order, filed under the jurisdiction of the judicial system. These orders, unlike pardons, have strict rules regarding what kinds of records can be expunged.

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