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amnesty

n. a blanket abolition of an offense by the government, with the legal result that those charged or convicted have the charge or conviction wiped out. Examples: a) the amnesty given to Confederate officials and soldiers after the Civil War, or b) President Jimmy Carter's granting amnesty (under certain conditions) to those who violated the Selective Service Act in evading the draft during the Vietnam War. The basis for amnesty is generally because the war or other conditions that made the acts criminal no longer exist or have faded in importance. Amnesty is not a pardon as some believe, since a pardon implies forgiveness, and amnesty indicates a reason to overlook or forget the offenses.

See also: pardon 

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The People's Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill Publisher Fine Communications