It is no secret that the War on Drugs has resulted in numerous injustices: mandatory minimum sentences and harsh penalties imposed on those who possess, transport, and sell illegal drugs in California have resulted in decade’s worth of prison for non-violent offenders. Although there is little that can be done to fully compensate those who have suffered unjust sentencing, there are still actions available to Governors and U.S. Presidents that have the potential to alleviate some of the pain and injustice that has been caused…a full and unconditional pardon.
Over the last week, Governor Jerry Brown exercised his right to grant full and unconditional pardons to 127 individuals, the vast majority of which were convicted of some type of California drug crime. During a time in which many were celebrating Christmas and counting their blessings, families of drug crime convicts in California were rejoicing in their own way as family members, husbands, wives, and other loved ones were granted the gift of the state’s forgiveness.
WHAT IS A PARDON?
When applied to convicted drug crime defendants, a pardon forgives a person for their crimes and allows them to have their Civil Rights restored. The ability for State Governors and U.S. Presidents to grant pardons dates back to English rule in which kings were granted the right to forgive all forms of crime against the crown. These days, the power to pardon any individual of crimes in which the pardoning official is the chief executive is given to State Governors and U.S. Presidents for almost any crime.
Of the 127 individuals who received pardons last week by Governor Jerry Brown, 93 of them were convicted drug crime defendants. According to Governor Brown’s office, every individual who was granted a pardon finished serving their imposed criminal sentences more than 10 years ago and have not gotten in any trouble since their release. The Governor’s pardons came a few days after President Obama’s decision to commute the sentences of federal inmates serving crack and cocaine-related federal sentences.
It is important to note that a pardon does not imply that the person being pardoned was not guilty of their crime, but that they have now been forgiven for the crimes for which they have been convicted.
WHO CAN RECEIVE A PARDON?
Anyone can receive a pardon, but it is very difficult to do so. Only your State’s Governor or the President of the United States has the ability to grant anyone a pardon. Plus, whenever a Governor or President pardons someone, they almost always receive some kind of negative attention for it. There have been instances in the past where U.S. Presidents have exercised their right to pardon and have been criticized harshly for their decision. In some cases, financial motivation was suspected, and other instances have bred concerns of criminal conspiracy.
Instances of controversial pardons include President Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon (allowing him to avoid criminal charges for his role in the Watergate scandal), President Carter’s amnesty of persons who unlawfully evaded the Vietnam War draft, and President George Bush’s pardon of members of Reagan’s administration for their part in the Iran-Contra Affair.
DOES THIS AFFECT OTHER CA DRUG CRIME DEFENDANTS?
In some ways, maybe. The fact that Governor Jerry Brown felt the need to pardon 93 individuals for drug crimes in California is an important message: many of those who are serving sentences for drug crimes have been penalized more than Governor Jerry Brown feels comfortable with. So much so that he went out of his way to make sure that these people no longer suffer penalties as a result of their crimes. Although drug crime laws are the same today as they were last week, the Governor’s stance towards non-violent drug offenders may be moving in a positive direction.
CALIFORNIA DRUG CRIME DEFENSE
If you or your loved one are facing criminal charges for drug-related offenses in Southern California, I invite you to contact my drug crime defense law firm for a free consultation. At MacGregor & Collins, LLP, our defense attorneys have assisted more than 10,000 clients over the past several decades and have done so with a great deal of success.
Call (844) 524-4011 to obtain your free confidential case evaluation with no obligation to hire an attorney or retain our services. If you are looking for the best criminal defense attorney available, you can count on MacGregor & Collins, LLP defense attorneys to provide you with the legal representation and experience needed to handle your case effectively.