What is Pardon?

Legal Definition
A pardon is a government decision to allow a person who has been convicted of a crime to be free and absolved of that conviction, as if never convicted.

Today, pardons are granted in many countries when individuals have demonstrated that they have fulfilled their debt to society, or are otherwise considered to be deserving. Pardons are sometimes offered to persons who are wrongfully convicted or who claim they have been wrongfully convicted. In some jurisdictions, accepting such a pardon implicitly constitutes an admission of guilt (see Burdick v. United States in the United States), so in some cases the offer is refused. Cases of wrongful conviction are nowadays more often dealt with by appeal than by pardon; however, a pardon is sometimes offered when innocence is undisputed to avoid the costs of a retrial. Clemency plays a very important role when capital punishment is applied.
-- Wikipedia
Legal Definition
Crim. law, pleading. A pardon is an act of grace, proceeding from the power entrusted with the execution of the laws, which exempts the individual on whom it is bestowed, from the punishment the law inflicts for a crime he has committed. 7 Pet. S. C. Rep. 160.

2. Every pardon granted to the guilty is in derogation of the law; if the pardon be equitable, the law is, bad; for where legislation and the administration of the law are perfect, pardons must be a violation of the law, But as human actions are necessarily imperfect, the pardoning power must be vested somewhere in order to prevent injustice, when it is ascertained that an error has been committed.

3. The subject will be considered with regard, 1. To the kinds of pardons. 2. By whom they are to be granted. 3. For what offences. 4. How to be taken advantage of 5. Their effect.

4. - §1, Pardons are general or special. 1. The former are express, when an act ofthe legislature is passed expressly directing that offences of a certain class; shall be pardoned, as in the case of an act of amnesty. See Amnesty. A general pardon is implied by the repeal of a penal statute, because, unless otherwise provided by law, an offence against such statute while it was in force cannot be punished, and the offender goes free. 2 Overt. 423. 2. Special pardons are those which are granted by the pardoning power for particular cases.

5. Pardons are also divided into absolute and conditional. The former are those which free the criminal without any condition whatever; the. fatter are those to which a condition is annexed, which must be performed before the pardon can have any effect. Bac. Ab. Pardon, E; 2 Caines, R. 57; 1 Bailey, 283; 2 Bailey 516. But see 4 Call, R. 85.

6. - §2. The constitution of the United States gives to the, president in general terms, "the power to grant reprieves and pardons for offences against the United States." The same power is given generally to the governors of the several states to grant pardons for crimes committed against their respective states, but in some of them the consent of the legislature or one of its branches is required.

7. - §3. Except in the case of impeachment, for which a pardon cannot be granted, the pardoning power may grant a pardon of all offences against the government, and for any sentence or judgment. But such a pardon does not operate to discharge the interest which third persons may have acquired in the judgment; as, where a penalty was incurred in violation of the embargo laws, and the custom house officers became entitled to one-half of the penalty, the pardon did not discharge that. 4 Wash. C. C R. 64. See 2 Bay, 565; 2 Whart. 440; 7 J. J. Marsh. 131.

8. - §4. When the pardon is general, either by an act of amnesty, or by the repeal of a penal law, it is not necessary to plead it, because the court is bound, ex officio, to take notice of it. And the criminal cannot even waive such pardon, because by his admittance, no one can give the court power to punish him, when it judicially appears there is no law to do it. But when the pardon is special, to avail the criminal it must judicially appear that it has been accepted, and for this reason it must be specially pleaded. 7 Pet. R. 150, 162.

9. - §5. The effect of a pardon is to protect from punishment the criminal for the offence pardoned, but for no other. 1 Porter, 475. It seems that the pardon of an assault and battery, which afterwards becomes murder by the death of the person beaten, would not operate as a pardon of the murder. 12 Pick. 496. In general, the effect of a full pardon is to restore the convict to all his rights. But to this there are some exceptions: 1st. When the criminal has been guilty of perjury, a pardon will not qualify him to be a witnessat any time afterwards. 2d. When one was convicted of an offence by which he became civilly dead, a pardon did not affect or annul the second marriage of his wife, nor the sale of his property by persons appointed to administer on his estate, nor divest his heirs of the interest acquired in his estate in consequence of his civil death. 10 Johns. R. 232, 483.

10. - §6. All contracts, made for the buying or procuring a pardon for a convict, are void. And such contracts will be declared null by a court of equity, on the ground that they are opposed to public policy. 4 Bouv. Inst. n. 3857. Vide, generally, Bac. Ab. h. t.; Com. Dig. h. t.; Nels. Ab. h. t.; Vin. Ab. h. t.; 13 Petersd. Ab. h. t.; Dane's Ab. h. t.; 3 lust. 233 to 240; Hawk. b. 2, c. 37; 1 Chit. Cr. L. 762 to 778; 2 Russ. on Cr. 595 Arch. Cr. Pl. 92; Stark. Cr. Pl. 368, 380.
-- Bouviers Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
An act of grace, proceeding from the power entrusted with the execution of the laws, which exempts the individual on whom it is bestowed from the punishment the law inflicte for a crime he has committed. U. S. v. Wilson, 7 Pet. 160, 8 L. Ed. 640; Ex parte Garland, 4 Wall. 380, 18 It. Ed. 366; Moore v. State, 43 N. J. Law, 241, 39 Am. Rep. 558; Rich v. Chamberlain, 104 Mich. 436, 62 N. W. 584, 27 In In A. 573; Edwards v. Com., 78 Va. 39, 49 Am. Rep. 377. "Pardon" is to be distinguished from "amnesty." The former applies only to the individual, releases him from the punishment fixed by law for his specific offence, but does not affect the criminality of the same or similar acts when performed by other persons or repeated by the same person. The latter term denotes an act of grace, extended by the government to all persons who may come within its terms, and which obliterates the criminality of past acts done, and declares that they shall not be treated as punishable.
See also
-- Black's Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
An act of grace proceeding from the power entrusted with the execution of the laws, which exempts the individual on whom it is bestowed from the punishment the law inflicts for a crime he has committed. See 7 Pet. (U. S.) 150, 8 L. Ed. 640.
-- Ballentine's Law Dictionary