What is a presidential pardon?

Verified 04 September 2023 - Legal and Administrative Information Directorate (Prime Minister)

Presidential pardon is a power of the President of the Republic.

This power allows the court to decide to exempt a convicted person from serving his or her sentence.

The President of the Republic may grant pardon for the entire sentence or only for part of the sentence.

He is not obliged to justify his decision to grant or refuse pardon to a convicted person.

We present you with the information you need to know.

Grace should not be confused with amnesty, because unlike amnesty:

  • Grace does not erase the conviction of the criminal record
  • The pardon is for one person
  • Pardon is not decided by a law passed by Parliament

To receive a pardon, you must be sentenced to imprisonment or a fine and the conviction must be definitive.

The pardon only deals with criminal sanctions.

Thus, it does not concern the following penalties:

  • Civil sanctions (e.g. compensation for damage of the victim or civil fine)
  • Administrative sanctions (e.g. withdrawal of points from driving license)

If you wish to receive a presidential pardon, you must make a written request to the President of the Republic.

Other people can also apply for you: a family member, your lawyer, a friend, an elected official or the Public Prosecutor.

Who shall I contact

The case is then examined by a specialized department of the Ministry of Justice, the Directorate of Criminal Affairs and Pardons (DACG).

This service gathers all the information and opinions that will enable the President of the Republic to decide whether a pardon may be considered.

If the decision is favorable, a pardon decree is adopted.

It is signed by the President of the Republic and countersigned by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice.

Pardon decrees are not published in the Official Journal.

If a pardon decree concerns you, it will be directly to you notified, and to the person who sought pardon for you.

A pardon relieves you of the part of the sentence for which it is granted, the entire sentence, or part of the sentence.

Pardon can also replace your initial sentence with a lighter one.

The pardon has no effect on the sentencing decision, which is still on your list criminal record.

If you wish to have the conviction quashed, you may submit a request for revision against the conviction.

Grace does not prevent the victim of infringements which you have committed to obtain compensation for damage caused.

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