Sometimes, the criminal justice system makes a mistake: The wrong person gets convicted or a sentence is simply unfair. When that happens, it’s important to look for ways to find post-conviction relief, including clemency or a pardon.

In South Carolina, the governor has limited clemency power. They may grant reprieves or commute death sentences to life imprisonment. The South Carolina Board of Probate, Parole, and Pardons, however, has the authority to grant pardons. The Board may also assist in non-binding recommendations to the governor regarding proposed sentence commutations.

Who can help with clemency in South Carolina?

It’s important to note that both parties have the potential to help with post-conviction relief, but their powers are divided. Anyone seeking either a pardon or commutation of their sentence needs to be informed about the steps in the process and know where to focus their petition. Otherwise, all the work they put into the request could go for nothing.

It’s also smart to understand that any petition for clemency or pardon will take time. This is not a quick process. Both the Board and the governor’s office can be prone to delays that may feel excruciatingly long to the people waiting for their petitions to be read.

What should you do if you have been wrongfully convicted or unfairly sentenced?

If your conviction was unfair, wrongful or unreasonably harsh, get help. Clemency or a pardon may not be your only option. You may also be able to successfully appeal your trial verdict or the sentence based on one or more factors in your case. An experienced defense attorney can show you the possibilities.