Criteria for Clemency in Pennsylvania

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Feb 25, 2022 | 0 Comments

When should an individual seek clemency for the crime they were convicted of? It might surprise you to learn that the leader of a large drug organization is actively seeking clemency from the state of Pennsylvania. At first glance, you might wonder how someone convicted of a high-level crime would stand a chance in front of the clemency board, but if you take a closer look, you might understand why clemency could be appropriate in this case.

As discussed in an Altoona Mirror article, Efrain G. Hidalgo, Jr. was sentenced to between 60 and 150 years behind bars for crimes relating to an organized drug ring in the late 1990s. Some important facts to note about this case include:

  • At the time, Hidalgo's sentence was the longest ever imposed for a non-homicide related crime in Blair County history
  • Hidalgo's sentence is one of the longest ever imposed in a drug-related case in state history
  • Hidalgo is a Native American and Blair County has a history of Klu Klux Klan affiliations
  • When police officers arrested Hidalgo, they avoided the traditional channel of investigation processes

Whether Hidalgo's Clemency Petition will be approved remains to be seen, but his case does consist of certain facts that the state needs to consider in determining whether clemency should be granted.

What is Clemency?

Clemency includes pardons and commutations of prison sentences. Pardons equate to total forgiveness of the crime a person has been convicted of, meaning certain rights they lost because of the conviction will be restored.

A commutation, on the other hand, is the request to have a prison or parole sentence reduced. Commutations are granted only when the convicted individual has exhausted all other legal options. If a Commutation Petition is successful, the petitioner may be released without restriction or released subject to parole.

Clemency Eligibility in Pennsylvania

Seeking clemency in PA can be a complicated process. First and foremost, an individual must be eligible for clemency before they can apply for it. Clemency eligibility in PA requires that an individual have a PA criminal conviction record. This excludes any federal convictions, even if the charges originated in state court.

The review board will consider the circumstances of your case in determining whether you should be granted clemency. There is no official checklist of items that your application must meet, but factors such as the nature of the crime and how long ago the crime occurred will be considered. As with the Hidalgo case, the review board should consider whether the sentence was unreasonably severe.

Speak With a PA Clemency Attorney

If you or someone you love deserves clemency in Pennsylvania, you can increase your odds of filing a successful clemency application if you first speak with an attorney. Joseph D. Lento understands how much clemency means to his clients and their families, and he can help you start the clemency process. To learn how the Lento Law Firm can help you, call 888-535-3686 today.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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