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Pardons
330 East Kilbourn Avenue, Suite 1170
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP

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Phone414-271-1440

Milwaukee Criminal Governor Pardon Attorney

Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Assist With Petitions for Pardons and Commutations in Wisconsin

Milwaukee WI pardon application lawyer Criminal arrests and charges can have far-reaching effects on a person’s life and career, and in many cases, people will struggle for many years to overcome the difficulties that come with a criminal conviction. A criminal record can affect your ability to find employment, obtain certain professional and municipal licenses, or own a firearm.

The future for obtaining executive pardons and commutations has potentially gotten significantly better since Walker was defeated for reelection in November 2018. The newly-elected Governor Tony Evers has indicated a willingness to return to the long-standing tradition in Wisconsin of governors considering pardon applications.

Pardons are sought in order to obtain relief and complete restoration of all civil rights from the effects of a criminal conviction. Pardons by the governor are normally not granted until a substantial period of time has elapsed once a defendant has completed his/her sentence, or for exceptional reasons. The same consideration holds true for presidential pardons of federal convictions. Commutations of sentence can be granted by the governor while a defendant is still serving his/her sentence. Pardons and commutations can be either full or partial, and the granting of such is totally discretionary with the governor.

Commutations of sentence have been granted in cases in which a high minimum sentence has been imposed (e.g., life imprisonment) and where such sentence is having an adverse effect on the progress of a defendant who has made substantial rehabilitative improvements; or if the legislature has subsequently reduced the penalty for an offense; or where it seems certain that parole or release to extended supervision would be granted and there are compelling reasons to eliminate delay; or where a disproportionately harsh sentence has been imposed; or in exceptional cases, as a motivational tool towards further exceptional rehabilitation efforts, even though parole is unlikely or unavailable. Parole is not available in Wisconsin for sentences imposed for felonies committed after 1999, under the so-called Truth in Sentencing law, which has been much criticized.

Applications for a pardon or executive clemency is made to the governor, and are reviewed by the governor’s pardon counsel and the pardon advisory board. Applications for pardons from federal criminal convictions are made to the President of the United States and federal pardon counsel.

Attorneys at Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP are keeping close tabs on the rapid new developments in this fluid situation, and we can advise and help you understand your options and work with you to anticipate the legal requirements and timing for applying for a pardon, commutation, or expungement in the future.

Pardons for Wisconsin State Charges

In Wisconsin, a person who is convicted of a felony loses a number of civil rights, including:

  • The right to vote
  • The right to serve on a jury
  • The right to own or possess a firearm
  • The right to hold a public office
  • The right to obtain or continue holding certain professional licenses

After a person successfully completes their sentence, including serving time in prison and completing probation or parole, their rights to vote and serve as a member of a jury are automatically reinstated. However, the other rights can only be restored by receiving a pardon from the governor of Wisconsin, if postconviction efforts have failed to reverse the underlying conviction. Many licensed professions have self-reporting requirements for both felony and misdemeanor convictions. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP regularly handle postconviction motions, writs and appeals.

Pardons by the governor are available for state crimes. A presidential pardon is required for a federal criminal conviction. Pardons by the governor are normally not granted until a substantial period of time has elapsed since a defendant has completed his/her sentence, or for exceptional reasons, and the same usually holds true for presidential pardons of federal convictions. Commutations of sentence can be granted while the defendant is still serving his/her sentence. Pardons and commutations can be either full or partial, and are totally discretionary.

Until Scott Walker, Wisconsin governors appointed a Pardon Advisory Board, which reviewed pardon applications and made recommendations to the governor. Applications for executive clemency were made to the governor and were reviewed by the governor’s pardon counsel and the Pardon Advisory Board. Hopefully, newly-elected Governor Tony Evers will once again follow the long-time practice in Wisconsin of considering executive clemency applications.

When making decisions about whether to grant pardons or commutations (changing sentence length), the board and the governor have in the past considered several factors, including:

  • The seriousness of the criminal offense
  • The applicant’s previous criminal record
  • How much time has passed since the crime took place
  • The applicant’s rehabilitation since committing the crime, as well as any public service and involvement in their community
  • Whether there is a significant, documented need for a pardon

In pre-Walker times, when the constitutional duty of the governor to consider executive clemency was actually followed, the board advised the governor as to whether a pardon or commutation should be granted. The desire to clear one’s record was typically not considered enough on its own to warrant a pardon grant. A pardon was more likely to be granted if an applicant demonstrated that she or he was rehabilitated, and it was necessary in order to pursue education, receive job training, certification, licensing, or employment, or run for public office.

Commutations of sentence were granted in the pre-Walker days in cases in which a high minimum sentence had been imposed (e.g., life imprisonment) and where such sentence was having an adverse effect on the progress of a defendant who had made substantial rehabilitative improvements; or if the legislature has subsequently reduced the penalty for an offense; or where it seems certain that parole or release to extended supervision would be granted and there are compelling reasons to eliminate delay; or where a disproportionately harsh sentence had been imposed; or in exceptional cases, as a motivational tool towards further exceptional rehabilitation efforts, even though parole is unlikely or unavailable. Parole was abolished by the Wisconsin legislature for felonies committed after 1999.

Contact a Wisconsin Pardons Lawyer

Obtaining a pardon or commutation can make a huge difference in your life, allowing you to move on from the mistakes of your past. Given the shifting political landscape, when and how to apply, and developing the background information necessary for a successful application is of critical importance. At Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown LLP, our experienced Milwaukee criminal defense attorneys can advise you of what is really happening in this area of the law, and counsel and represent your interests through the advance preparation and pardon application process, helping you try to achieve the fresh start you deserve. Contact us at 414-271-1440 to learn more about how we can help.

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