Commutation of Sentence in Florida
A commutation is a form of clemency in which reduces the amount of punishment for the crime the offender committed. The commutation will reduce the prison term as well as any court-ordered fines. The commutation will also replace the original court ordered sentence. A commutation of sentence may adjust an applicant’s penalty to a less severe penalty but will not restore civil rights. Commutation will not restore the authority to own, possess, or use firearms either. Unlike clemency, commutation of a sentence will only modify or lessen a prison sentence, the offender is not completely exonerated from the conviction or free from the charge. Similar to a pardon, the commutation is a matter of grace , not a right. Certain conditions may be granted and the offender must oblige those conditions for the remainder balance of the original sentence. Generally commuted sentences will be rewarded for good behavior. If the offender has been convicted in federal court, only the President of the United States will have the authority to grant a commutation of sentence. If the offender has been convicted by the state, he or she must seek relief through the Governor of the state or state parole board.
Filing a Petition of Commutation of Sentence in Florida
The Governor of the state of Florida has the right to deny clemency for any reason and at any time. Along with the approval of two (2) cabinet members, the Governor has the discretion to grant a commutation of sentence for any reason and at any time. In Florida, a commutation will only modify an original sentence to a less severe sentence. This will not restore civil rights of the offender nor will it allow the offender to possess, own, or use a firearm. For an offender to become eligible for a commutation of sentence, he or she must have already completed at least one-third of the imposed sentence. If the offender is serving a minimum mandatory sentence, he or she must have already completed at least one-half of the imposed sentence. If the offender is serving a life sentence, he or she must serve twelve in a half (12.5) years before applying. In 2011, Florida Governor Rick Scott and his Cabinet — Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam — established a five (5) year wait for convicted felons who wish to apply to have their rights restored. In 2007, former Gov. Charlie Crist’s first year in office, 38,971 felons regained their civil rights. In 2011, Rick Scott and his Cabinet, acting as the Board of Executive Clemency, restored civil rights to 78 people. The numbers show that seeking relief of commutation of sentence in Florida will be a difficult and long process. Clemency is not guaranteed and commutations are rarely granted.
Eligible individuals may go online onto the Office of Clemency website and download the "Request for Review" for commutation of sentence application. The application should be completely filled out along with copies of certified court documents of the felony conviction which the individual is seeking commutation of sentence relief. Court documents include the indictment or charging document, the judgment, sentence, and all other supporting documents. All documents can be obtained through the Clerk of the Court in the county of which the offense occurred. The offender must present at least one original document before the request will be processed. Once the Request for Review is accepted, the Florida Commission on Offender Review is required by law to review the case and provide an advisory recommendation for consideration to the Clemency Board. At this time, the offender will learn from the Parole Commission if the recommendation is favorable or not favorable. The Request for Review must be granted by the Governor and one Board member must approve the review before a formal hearing in front of the Clemency Board will be scheduled. Once the review has been granted, the case will then be referred to the Parole Commission for a full background investigation, report, and recommendation. If an offender has been denied the Request for Review, he or she must wait for five (5) years from the date of denial until he or she can reapply for another review. The offender must mail the application to the address below.
Contact the Office of Executive Clemency
The Office of Executive Clemency
Florida Commission on Offender Review
4070 Esplanade Way
Tallahassee, FL 32399-2450
Toll Free: 1-800-435-8286
Phone: (850) 488-2952
Fax: (850) 488-0695
Federal Commutation of Sentence
According to the United States Department of Justice, under the Federal Constitution, only the President of the United States has the authority to commute federal felony convictions which are adjudicated within the United States District Courts. Additionally, the clemency power of the President extends to felony convictions adjudicated in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. However, the President does not have the authority to commute any sentence in a state criminal sentence. To retrieve the Petition for Commutation of Sentence, the offender may go online to the United States Department of Justice website and download the application. The application must be either typed or written in ink and must by answered fully , accurately, and truthfully. The offender may attach any supporting documents that he or she believes is relevant to the case or be helpful to the petition. All petitions must be forwarded to the Office of the Pardon Attorney with the United States Department of Justice. Under the Department's rules governing petitions for executive clemency, an applicant must satisfy a minimum waiting period of five years before he becomes eligible to apply for a presidential pardon of his federal conviction. The waiting period begins to run on the date of the petitioner's release from confinement. Alternatively, if the conviction resulted in a sentence that did not include any form of confinement, the waiting period begins on the date of sentencing.
Contact the Office of United States Pardon Attorney
United States Pardon Attorney
425 New York Ave NW # 11000,
Washington, DC 20530