Conditional Pardon


A Pardon is an executive order vacating a conviction.  A pardon can be full or partial; absolute, or conditional.  A pardon is conditional when its effectiveness depends on fulfillment of a condition by the offender.

The constitution gives to the president the power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the U.S[i].  This power to grant a pardon includes the power to grant a conditional pardon[ii].

“The King may extend his mercy upon what terms he pleases, and may annex to his county a condition precedent or subsequent, on the performance whereof the validity of the pardon will depend: and this by the common law”[iii].

The only limitation upon the power of the Governor in granting a conditional pardon is that the condition should not be illegal, immoral, or impossible to perform.  The acceptance of a pardon binds the person accepting it to all conditions, limitations, and restrictions contained.  However, the conditions must be legal, moral, and possible to perform[iv].

For a condition to be operative, the condition must appear on the face of the document.  The conditions must be clear and specific.  The reason is that the conditions attached to a pardon should be definite and specific as to inform the person pardoned of what would be required[v].

The validity and operative force of a pardon depends on the delivery and acceptance of a pardon.  A pardon signed by the Governor is inoperative and confers no rights upon the prisoner until it is delivered by the Governor and accepted by the prisoner.

Usually, the delivery must be made to the prisoner.  In exceptional cases, delivery can be made to persons authorized to act for the prisoner.

The prisoner can accept or reject a conditional pardon at his/her will[vi].  Once s/he accepts the conditions, the prisoner is bound by all attaching conditions.

[i] United States v. Wilson, 32 U.S. 150, 160 (U.S. 1833).

[ii] Jamison v. Flanner, 116 Kan. 624, 635 (Kan. 1924).

[iii] Lee v. Murphy, 63 Va. 789, 791 (Va. 1872).

[iv] Arthur v. Craig, 48 Iowa 264, 269 (Iowa 1878).

[v] Ex parte Reno, 66 Mo. 266, 269 (Mo. 1877).

[vi] State ex rel. O’Connor v. Wolfer, 53 Minn. 135, 139 (Minn. 1893).