About the pardon ...

President Donald Trump has exercised his pardon power for the first time to pardon former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. A look at the president’s unique power:

Source of pardon power

Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 of the Constitution says: “The President ... shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” The president’s power can only be used to pardon someone for a federal crime.

Pardon process

Someone who has been convicted of a federal crime and wants to be pardoned makes a request for a pardon to the Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney, which assists the president in exercising his pardon power. Department rules tell pardon seekers to wait at least five years after their conviction or their release from prison, whichever is later, before filing a pardon application.

It’s then up to the pardon office to make a recommendation about whether a pardon is warranted. The office looks at such factors as how the person has acted following their conviction, the seriousness of the offense and the extent to which the person has accepted responsibility for their crime. Prosecutors in the office that handled the case are asked to weigh in. The pardon office’s report and recommendation gets forwarded to the deputy attorney general, who adds his or her recommendation. That information is then forwarded to the White House for a decision.

Arpaio’s pardon unusual

Arpaio didn’t submit a pardon application through the Office of the Pardon Attorney. His pardoning also took place before he was sentenced. Arpaio was convicted July 31 of misdemeanor contempt of court for intentionally defying a 2011 court order to stop traffic patrols that targeted immigrants. He had been set to be sentenced Oct. 5 and faced up to six months in jail. The fact that Arpaio was pardoned for a misdemeanor offense, which carries a penalty of less than a year in jail, is also unusual. Generally those seeking presidential pardon have been convicted of felonies.

Next in Arpaio case

Arpaio attorneys will file a motion to vacate his conviction and to dismiss the case with prejudice.

­— Associated Press