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How Commutations Work In Delaware Criminal Cases


There are different forms of post-conviction relief in Delaware that can dampen the harsh effects of a criminal conviction, and a commutation is one that may be available in some cases. This option is part of the governor’s powers as designated by the Delaware Constitution, which also includes pardons and reprieves. If you have already been convicted and are currently serving your sentence, a commutation is something to consider for reducing your punishment.

Though you will still be working with the Delaware Board of Pardons for a commutation, the process and end result is different from a governor’s pardon. You are not seeking to remove a conviction from your criminal record, but rather looking to be released sooner. However, there are many details and legal requirements, making it wise to retain a Wilmington criminal appeals lawyer for help. Some information on how these cases work is useful as an overview.

 Basics of Commutations: A commutation is a sentence reduction for someone who was already convicted of a crime and is incarcerated as part of the penalties issued by the judge. Going through the process does not expunge your criminal history or seal criminal records. It also does not eliminate the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction, such as restoring the right to vote or run for public office.

However, there are many things you can do through commutation. If approved, you can reduce the time of incarceration, lower fines or restitution, or otherwise change the terms of your sentence.

Steps for Commutations in Delaware: Though your lawyer will guide you through the process, it is useful to know some background on the steps:

  1. Obtain your Offender Status Sheet from officials at your correctional facility.
  2. Make a formal request for certified court documents and orders regarding your case and sentencing.
  3. Complete the Application for Commutation, which must include the Offender Status Sheet. You must also include a narrative on your reasons for seeking a commutation.
  4. Make copies of all documents for yourself, and then send originals to the Board of Pardons.

Once you submit all documents, you must wait for word from the Board of Pardons about a hearing date.

Other Forms of Post-Conviction Relief: Expungement, record sealing, and pardons are all options for reducing the impact of a criminal conviction. There are different requirements, and some forms of post-conviction relief are not available to certain individuals. For instance, you can only expunge your record if you were not convicted, the charges were dismissed, or the governor previously pardoned you.

 Trust a Delaware Sentence Modifications and Commutations Attorney to Guide You

This summary of the process is useful for understanding the basics, but the details matter when it comes to commutations. Attorney Michael W. Modica is well-versed in the requirements, so please contact our Wilmington, DE office to learn more about the process. You can set up a consultation by calling 302.600.1262 or visiting our website. After reviewing your situation, we can advise you on options for post-conviction relief.

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