A pardon is an action by an executive official whereby the government mitigates or sets aside a punishment for a crime. The granting of a pardon to someone who has committed a crime or who has been convicted of a crime is called an act of clemency
, or otherwise an act of forgiveness. Many pardons are granted to those who are considered deserving, or who have been wrongfully convicted.
On the state level, either a governor or a pardon board composed of high-ranking officials grants a pardon. On the federal level, the president has the power to grant a pardon. Only the president can pardon for violations of federal law and governors are only allowed to pardon violations against the laws of their states.
Once a pardon has been granted, all remaining penalties or punishments are removed, thereby preventing new prosecution. The pardon strikes the conviction from the books as if it never occurred, and the sentenced served is cleared from the defendant's record.